Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just a Jordanian MP?

Published March 6th, 2013 - 02:32 GMT
Shady Al-Edwan reaches for his gun during a session of parliament
Shady Al-Edwan reaches for his gun during a session of parliament

What is it with MPs and guns in Jordan?

It seems that the current batch of would be reformers sitting in Jordan's elected chamber are nothing more than a bunch of John Wayne wannabes.

Firstly, there was last summer's pistols-at-tea-time incident on live television when MP Mohammed Shawabkeh thought he'd settle a debate the old fashioned way. Responding to Mansour Murad's criticism of the government with robust rhetoric, Shawabkeh then proceeded by throwing a shoe at his opponent after Murad allegedly cursed his father. In the ensuing chaos he shocked the host and live audience by pulling a pistol from his jacket pocket.

What the MP was doing carrying a firearm at a live television broadcast is perplexing. Maybe he'd come straight from the range. Maybe he thought he was at the Arab's Got Talent auditions and was planning on firing the thing, using only his teeth, balanced atop a human pyramid.

As embarrassing as the incident was for Jordanian politics, perhaps the image of one crazed gun toting parliamentarian would not smear the political body in the eyes of the rest of the world. It's not like all Jordanian MPs carry guns...

Step forward Shady Al-Edwan. Hailing from Al-Balqa'a Province, he belongs to the Al-Hayari tribe and is a staunch defender of the Prime Minister. He's also fond of carrying a gun to parliament. During a boisterous exchange in Amman, the Prime Minister was defending the government's policy to increase fuel prices and was accused of corruption by Zied Al-Shobake MP.

What happened next wasn't quite a Jordanian take on the climax to a Quentin Tarantino movie, but the house of parliament descended into a violent brawl with MPs having to be pulled apart amid swinging fists. In the midst of it all, caught on camera was Shady Al-Edwan reaching in to his back pocket for a gun. For the second time in a year, a Jordanian MP responds to a political attack, whether fair or not, by producing a firearm.

In the aftermath at least two MPs have been taken to hospital, and it's alleged that - another member of the clan - Nidal Al-Hayari suffered injuries after he was hit with an ashtray. But the most troubling aspect is the fact that MPs are carrying guns - to television studios and to the chamber.

In our post-digital age where technology positively encourages people to share more information than ever before, these kind of incidents can't be covered up or ignored. With the entire incident filmed and uploaded online for all the world to see, there's no space for this kind of pseudo-macho playground politics and it's about time that the Jordanians got their house in order.


What do you think? Is this just another gun-toting madman in the Middle East or does this represent the desperate state of play in the Arab street, reflected in the corridors of power?

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