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Cablegate: Jordan Celebrates the Holy Month of Ramadan With

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS AMMAN 006862

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM JO IS
SUBJECT: JORDAN CELEBRATES THE HOLY MONTH OF RAMADAN WITH
PRAYER AND TREPIDATION

1. The following cable was drafted by one of our FSNs and
conveys the mood of Ramadan 2002 in Jordan from her
perspective.

2. Summary: While last year's Ramadan was marked with
pessimism and lethargy, one would have thought that the
situation wouldn't and couldn't possibly get worse. Last
year, Jordanians greeted Ramadan with daily fresh images of
wounded Palestinians and the added weightiness of the US
campaign in Afghanistan. This year, the mood in Ramadan is
one of "accumulated frustration", "further disillusionment",
and "a case of hopelessness". Jordanians see a continued
Intifada that seems to be going nowhere; an inevitable war
on Iraq; political unrest within Jordan; a sinking economy;
and a new war many believe to be targeted at Islam and Arabs
at large. Faced with these simultaneous pressures,
Jordanians are spending more time in reflection, and in
mosques. End Summary.

3. Although this year's Ramadan is far from festive, the
mood is not all one of gloom and tension. Homes and streets
are decorated with lanterns and crescents (in the manner of
Christmas); special-made food items are prepared and
fashionably displayed; and cafes and hotels offer Ramadan
Iftars and quiz nights at a good price. The King and Queen
host Iftars for the underprivileged, other Royal Family
members host Iftars for orphans, and donations and food
packages are routed to the poor by the able and fortunate.
The streets are emptied at sunset and grid locked after the
stomachs are full. Non-Jordanian satellite TV stations host
many politicized shows such as Horseman without a Horse --
about resistance to the British and Zionist colonization -
which are aired in prime time. (Note: Jordan Television
(JTV) is not airing this program. However, Jordanians are
able to view it either on the "Al-
Manar" or "Dream" satellite stations. End Note.) This is
followed by the story of Juha, the legendary figure who
represents the underdog in society facing up to the
government. Several lottery shows - increasingly popular -
promise people a chance to win - and offer a momentary
escape from reality.

4. Beneath it all, however, people have become cynical and
depressed about the reality they are forced to live. "I
don't read the news as much because it's the same everyday."
"It's supposed to be a holy month, but there is nothing holy
or sanctified about it . . . there are still Israeli
incursions and deaths everyday. Nothing has changed."
"People are praying more because it leaves the
responsibility to God to do something".

5. Consequently, more Jordanians are spending their time
in quiet reflection and prayer. People are less politicized
publicly, but their worries and frustration are evident. In
contrast to last year, the number of people attending mosque
prayers after Iftar has increased dramatically, especially
among young women. There are now new facilities that make it
easier for women to attend - women can take their children
with them and have the mosque management attend to them. The
press has featured articles deeming it `wrongful' for men to
stop their wives from going to post Iftar prayers; there's a
lot of Quran reading and more and more TV shows catering for
this religious segment. We have also heard anecdotal reports
that the number of Jordanians traveling to Mecca this
Ramadan to perform Umra has also increased significantly
over previous years. It is well known that in times of
trouble people turn to religion, and Jordanians have a lot
on their minds these days as the region inches towards
conflict.

6. Jordanians have somehow adopted a new level of
normalcy. While Ramadan carries on as usual, beneath it all
lies a cautious ennui and trepidation about possible more
difficult times to come.

GNEHM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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