In Jordan, elections rhyme with celebratory shooting

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LETTER FROM BEIRUT

Even for the most jaded Jordanians, used to the macho folklore of celebratory shootings, the images broadcast on the kingdom’s social networks on the evening of November 11 were a shock.

It shows machine gun bursts streaking through the darkness, as if tracking an invisible plane. A man in scarves, standing on the roof of a pickup truck, a gun at the end of his arm, spitting sprays of fire into the night. Another emptying the charger of his Kalashnikov, in a crackle of hell, above a crowd of onlookers dancing in joy. We even see a little boy, equipped with an M16 taller than him, pulling in the sky as if he were at a fun fair.

From north to south, from Jerash to Ma’an, passing through the suburbs of Amman, these scenes of anarchy were repeated. The reason for this giant vent? The publication of the results of the elections, held the day before, in the Majlis al-Nuwab, the Jordanian assembly, which has very small legislative powers. “It was absolutely amazing”says Noha Ahmed, a lawyer from Amman, who from the balcony of her apartment, overlooking a valley, witnessed all-out shootings. “Some were shooting because their champion won, others were shooting because he lost. It looked like war. We would have thought we were in Syria. “

The phenomenon of shooting for joy – or rage – is very common in certain rural or peri-urban regions of the Arab world, notably in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Jordan. This virile tribal ritual punctuates major life events, such as an electoral success, a wedding, a funeral or even a child’s passing at the baccalaureate. At regular intervals, the authorities promise to crack down on this practice, which causes many deaths and injuries.

An arsenal worthy of an American blockbuster

They toughen legislation, launch awareness campaigns, and proclaim zero tolerance. In 2015, King Abdullah even said that if his son engaged in such acts, he would ask the authorities to take care of him. In vain. In April, a tragicomic video circulated on the Internet showing the return to his village of a man released from prison. As soon as he got out of the car, the hero of the day is accidentally killed by his cousin, who came to greet him with gunshots in the air.

But this time around, the trigger fanatics may have gone too far. The arsenal exhibited in the videos, sometimes worthy of an American blockbuster, gave the whole country a cold sweat. “But where do all these weapons come from? cries Hani Rabie, a businessman from Amman. VSow is it possible that these people from poor and remote areas, like Ma’an, can afford to waste all these bullets, which are worth 3 dinars [3,50 euros] room ? “

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