Freaky Friday hits Jittery Jordan: Beirut's blast infects Amman
- Beirut's car-bombing by Sassine Sq., Achrafieh1 of 2
- City mall ceiling collapses in Amman2 of 2
After a weekend of turmoil visited Lebanon – and looks here to stay- (if it arguably ever left) – leaving the country back in a Cedar Revolution mood, other unlikely Arab countries were getting fidgety. Even above the Syrian din, all Arab neighbors had heard the deafening car bomb go off in Achrafieh, east Beirut. And most watched sadly as old sectarian lines constantly renewed by current political realities – vis-à-vis contentious neighbor Syria - were re-scored in that civil war old-hand nation. But shock waves also found their way into weekend shopping trips.
Nerves were fraught as Arabs across the region were ready to jump out of their skins, ears to the ground for anything else out of the ordinary Friday ‘protest’ routine, but hyper sensitive to their own infrastructure sparking off in flames. Jordan was particularly jittery - -home to the Qaeda hotel bombings of 2005, Amman was taking no chances late afternoon Friday, 19 October. A new brand of explosions spilling over to neighbors of Syria left the Kingdom with a palpable sense of pressure to remain the safe haven of the Middle East. Come early evening when a certain Ammani bulwark went off with a bang, the question on everyone’s lips sounded hard through the social media networks and newswires - Was it a bird, was it a bomb, was it a terrorist attack? Or a Syrian spillover by the haters of revolution? No, it was a mall-side construction malfunction – otherwise classed a ceiling collapse.
While kidnappings and killings of distinctly Syrian provenance had already plagued Lebanon, from Hezbollah supporting clans to Sunni stronghold Tripoli, nothing had yet touched the civilians of partyside Beirut. The weekend’s now-safely-assumed-to-be a targeted car-bombing, took innocent lives – 8 of them, including the head of national security, and injured scores more, marking up to a hundred Lebanese with physical scars, and leaving a country already prone to instability even more in jeapardy.
Over Jordan side, while fingers were being pointed at the makers of the Hariri car-bomb and Lebanon was descending into its sectarian slop, the Twittersphere and mobile messaging services were jamming up with reports that a bomb had gone off in City Mall, western Amman.
International news wires sparked off fears in the tense aftermath of Beirut that all was not well in low-key relatively well-behaved Jordan, with unconfirmed announcements of an explosion striking at the heart of Amman life, by targeting one of its malls.
Jordanian police were quick to repair the damage caused by hasty local and international reportage, both on social media and other traditional outlets, circulating their own refuting report of the so-called explosions: There was no explosion of the bomb variety they asserted, answering Sky News and Associated Press from a local security vantage.
“@SkyNewsBreak: AP: Jordanian police say a large explosion has hit a shopping centre in capital city Amman” #JO #Amman #Jordan.
Others took to Twitter to draw the striking parallel between Lebanon and Jordan’s tandem explosions. "Explosion in Beirut and Amman #damn".
This was soon rectified as the news got louder of the ceiling collapse that had got Ammanis running around like headless chickens.
All sympomatic of a jittery and very twittery climate too close for comfort to civil-warring Syria. Still, the usual humor mills were a-grinding and twitterati of Arab descent were keeping their wits about them in a post- September 11 dramatic playing field.
"I love how a ceiling falling in Amman's City Mall turns into a bomb explosion. At least they didn't say a plane crashed into it."
How the story actually went, it soon transpired, was far less internationally gripping, though still of local intrigue. A ceiling collapsed – an alarming and imaginatively powerful prospect - at a mall in the Jordanian capital, prompted alarm bells and panicked crowds fleeing the site. Five shoppers were reported to have sustained minor wounds when the mall ceiling wreckage unfurled and flew about.
Witnesses reported that the bomb scare was hardly surprising given the shattering noise from the ceiling collapse. The tension of the false, albeit frightful alarm Friday (a weekend day in Jordan) was also indicative of a shaky kingdom.
What do you think of this October Friday? Were you in Beirut or Amman - maybe in the local neighborhoods where things got explosive. Share your thoughts or tales of the tragic Beirut weekend or Amman's false alarm.