I read two news items related to Jordan today. Both have negative vibes — one particularly so– making me still more skeptical of any reform prospects in my native land. The first thing that caught my eye was this:

Syrian film director banned from visiting Jordan
Film director Omar Amiralay, whose trenchant documentaries on life and government in Syria earned him praise abroad, has briefly been arrested by Syrian authorities at the Jordanian border and barred from leaving the country, a leading human rights activist said. Ammar al-Qorabi, president of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, said Amiralay was heading to Jordan on Monday to work on his new film — the reason for his repeated visits to the neighboring country. After several hours, the authorities released the filmmaker and rights activist but banned him from visiting Jordan, said Qorabi.
Source: [Yahoo News]

It is not clear why this director was banned from visiting Jordan. If this piece of news proves accurate then some explanation is due from one side or the other. Was it a Syrian decision? Or was he black-listed in Jordan? I wonder. The details are unclear but hopefully it will be resolved. The second bit of news was this:

Human Rights Watch accuses Jordan of torture at central detention
A New York-based human rights group Tuesday accused Jordan’s security services of carrying out frequent arbitrary arrests and torturing detainees. Human Rights Watch also alleged that many suspects were held in solitary confinement without being charged before they were eventually released. The group urged U.S. President George W. Bush and members of the U.S. Congress to take up the matter with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the head of the main detention facility, Maj. Gen. Muhammad al-Dhahabi, who are currently visiting the United States.
Source: [International Herald Tribune]

These torture allegations have been tainting Jordan’s reputation for quite some time. We all know the drill by now: first the accusation, then the denial. The truth lies somewhere in between. My take: For the sake of humanity, torture must be put to an end no matter where it occurs or what the reason.

Update: Reading the film director banning story one more time, I’m inclined to believe that it was a Syrian decision. Maybe this story is not as Jordan-centric as I thought. I hope so.