My friends and family in Jordan have been telling me that life in Jordan has changed remarkably following the horrible 9 November terrorist attacks that rocked the country. Nowadays, ordinary Jordanians have to go through metal detectors wherever they go, something that has created an overall sense of forboding. Rami wrote a detailed blog entry about this last month, in which he described the changes he’s noticed in his hometown following the attacks.
Another consequence of the 9/11 attacks is that life for Iraqis in Jordan is also no longer the same. In an earlier post, I highlighted an IRIN article examining the harassment Iraqis began receiving after the attacks. The Washington Post ran an article today about new restrictions that are being imposed on Iraqis trying to enter the kingdom. Here are some excerpts:
AMMAN, Jordan — Jordanian border police are turning away hundreds of Iraqi vehicles daily at the Karama border crossing, often without explanation, creating huge parking lots of frustrated travelers in the Iraqi desert. At Queen Alia International Airport, just south of Jordan’s capital, Amman, Iraqi passengers are ushered into a room and interrogated before being allowed to enter the country. And some Iraqis who used to be able to get 30-day visas to Jordan are now being allowed to stay just a few days at a time.
Jordan’s government spokesman, Nasir Judah, confirmed that the country had imposed new border restrictions on Jan. 2 that prohibit vehicles with Iraqi license plates from entering the country. As a result, Iraqi commercial drivers are effectively prevented from taking passengers to and from Jordan, and private vehicles with Iraq’s signature black license plates are stopped at the border. The only Iraqi vehicles allowed into Jordan are those with white license plates, which can be obtained only after the owner puts funds into a trust equal to the value of the car. "It’s only routine measures . . . but because of the circumstances we have to be cautious and take all the essential measures," Judah said.
But some Iraqi citizens say they feel as if they are being profiled — suspected of wrongdoing simply because of their nationality. Their complaints echoed those of Arabs in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Source: [The Washington Post]
I understand the need for securing the country’s borders after the horrible attacks, but it ails me that immigration officers have to undertake a form of racial profiling in order to achieve this goal. Then again, this is only a news article providing one perspective. The situation on the ground may be a tad bit better than what is depicted here.
I can’t be sure about the legalities and measures taken against iraqis,but I doubt them having that sort of treatment on regular basis.Maybe there was an odd case or two,maybe for good reasons also,that they had to be over protective,but what we see in our daily life,is thousands of iraqis living peacefully and happily under the jordanian sun.We have lots of iraqi friends,none of them is complaining,and I hope it all stays this way.
Natasha, at least Jordan allows Iraqi’s in; the Iraqi government has been denying ALL Arabs entry to Iraq since the beginning of December 2005 and until today as far as I know.
It’s really ironic; just a few days ago I was wondering why no Jordanian blogger has commented on this decision by the Iraqi government, and now that someone decides to talk about borders and travel restrictions between Iraq and Jordan, well … you can imagine the disapointment I feel, or the frustration!
Basically, we have the Iraqi government saying, not for the first time, “If you’re Arab, you cannot enter our country”, we have Jordanian businesses that are halted because people cannot go to Baghdad to finish their deals, we have the most obvious form of racial profiling against all passengers, against all Arabs, and we have the Iraqi customs and immigration head himself saying that Jordan’s borders are the number one crossing point into Iraq (an indicator of how much this closure hurts Jordan). Where is the protest?
About turning away Iraqi’s at the Jordanian borders, there is a problem with Iraqi travelers holding fake documents and trying to use them to enter Jordan. Iraq’s own customs and immigration head at the Qadisiyya border crossing talked about that problem, you can read about it here:
A couple of months ago, I saw something in Queen Alia Airport that I found strange. I was on my way from Tunis, now usually you queue, reach a desk, give the passport, he scan the passport, look in the screen, then look at you waiting for you to confess something if you feel guilty, then stamp the passport and give it back and Welcome to Jordan. What I saw is more than 100 Iraqi passenger, from a plane that was 30 minutes before us, waiting, having each called by name. It seems that they gave the passports, and were asked to sit and wait. I found it interesting that different security measure was taken. Again it was few weeks after the event, I am not sure that it is still happening