Inside the Middle East
September 30, 2010
Posted: 901 GMT

The UK daily The Guardian is reporting today that it has exclusive access to secret documents indicating that the repeated jamming of Al-Jazeera Sports' satellite transmissions from the World Cup originated in Jordan.

In response, the Jordanian government issued a statement calling the allegations "absolutely baseless and unacceptable," saying "the government is ready to cooperate with any team of independent experts to examine the facts, and is certain that any such examination will prove these allegations false."

Back in June there was widespread anger among football fans around the region as up to seven matches being broadcast live from South Africa were disrupted by interference that the network referred to as "sabotage."

The Guardian is speculating that this interference, which it claims can be traced to a location near the Jordanian city of Al Salt, came in the wake of a last minute TV deal going sour that would have allowed viewers there to watch the games for free; an allegation that the Jordanian government rejects.

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Filed under: Jordan •Media •Science & Technology •Sports

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May 3, 2010
Posted: 915 GMT

Hosted by Rima Maktabi from Amman, Jordan
Debuts Wednesday May 5, 2010

“The 99” – Muslim Superheroes

For the first time, superheroes “inspired by Islam” are fighting evil and taking on the world in the form of comic books and an animated series. The creator and publisher, Kuwaiti clinical psychologist turned entrepreneur Naif Al-Mutawa, was singled out by President Obama at the March 26 Entrepreneurship Summit for “capturing the imagination of so many young people with superheroes that embody the tolerance and teachings of Islam.” Schams Elwazer introduces us to the man and the concept on the eve of a groundbreaking announcement that a major U.S. distributor will air the animated series in the United States.

Your IME Diary

We bring you highlights from events around the region in music and sports from a Tom Jones concert to Lebanese politicians playing a friendly soccer match commemorating the anniversary of the civil war. In old Amman we introduce you to artist Salam Kanaan. In Al-Ain we feature the Tinariwen musical group, a collective of Touareq rebel fighters turned musicians who sing about conflict and exile, about community and the triumph of the human spirit. Tracey Holmes meets these Blues men of the Sahara at the WOMAD music festival.

Campus Forum

In a regular segment featuring discussions with the region’s youth, Inside the Middle East goes on campus with students at Jordan University. Founded in 1962, it is the oldest university in the Kindgom and has the highest enrollment in the country with 36,000 students. We hold a roundtable discussion to address issues of education and employment opportunities, censorship, and students’ aspirations to help end poverty.

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Filed under: Inside The Middle East •Jordan •Kuwait •Lebanon •UAE

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November 14, 2009
Posted: 703 GMT

By James Montague, CNN

Al Ram, West Bank (CNN) - The Faisal al Husseini football stadium was packed, two hours before kick off, with a noisy sea of Palestinian flags and white hijabs.

Jordan's captain charges down the wing as they take control of the match. Both teams have Christian and Muslim player, some of whom cover when they play. Photo: James Montague/CNN.
Jordan's captain charges down the wing as they take control of the match. Both teams have Christian and Muslim player, some of whom cover when they play. Photo: James Montague/CNN.

Football matches are always a big deal in the West Bank, but this game was more significant than most. 10,000 women had flocked to the stadium, on the outskirts of East Jerusalem and a mere few meters from the separation barrier that snakes around the West Bank, to watch a historic football match few would have believed possible just a few years ago: the Palestinian women's national team were to play Jordan in their first ever home international.

Both teams gave laps of honor before the start of the game to mark an occasion that is rare in the Middle East. Football is hugely popular amongst women in the region but the development of the game has largely been held back by a social conservatism that disapproves of women playing what are deemed 'men's' sports.

In Kuwait, attempts to set up a women's national team was met with outrage in the country's parliament. The move was halted after Waleed al Tabtabae, a hard line Islamist MP who chairs a committee charged with weeding out 'phenomena strange to society' decided that a women's football team was 'un-Islamic'.

"Committee members expressed their indignation...and total rejection of the idea of the women's football team on the grounds that football is not suitable for women," Tabtabae told the Kuwait Times.

The UAE has only this year launched its own national team. A handful of teams exist in Saudi Arabia, although they are confined to the more liberal university campuses and have to be played in front of small, women-only crowds. In Iran women are banned from attending football matches and have to wear the hijab when they play, even in tournaments abroad.

The Palestinian team has had its own, unique problems to deal with. Set up in 2003 at Bethlehem University, Israeli movement restrictions meant it was impossible to practice on the West Bank's sole grass pitch in Jericho. Instead, they had to train on a concrete handball court and play against local boy's teams. Read full article

Filed under: Jordan •Sports •West Bank •Women

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September 17, 2009
Posted: 704 GMT

Note to Bloggers: Check out our refurbished webpage at where you can upload your video and photo ireports and suggest events you'd like us to cover. Also find us on Facebook by searching for CNN Inside the Middle East and become a fan!

Special Contribution from iReporter – Ali Dahmash

Amman, JORDAN - I have to give credit to social media such as Twitter & Facebook for making it possible for me to interact with Paulo Coelho, the CEO of Aramex & Orange Jordan, Jordanian Minister of Environment in a very short timeand be featured on CNN “Inside the Middle East”. That’s why I attended Amman Twestival 2009 which is a discussion Panel held for Bloggers and Twitters.

This year the discussion was about Entrepreneurship and Digital Media. Similar events were running simultaneously in more than 202 cities worldwide and Jordanian bloggers as myself were able to participate in this open discussion. It was an open discussion between the four guest Panels, the moderator and the audience and we were able to discuss the future of social media in Jordan and where it is heading as well as many of our concerns. The Panel also discussed the latest in the social media scene and how it is affecting corporations and entrepreneurs in interacting with their clients and customers.

During the event, many Twitterers were sending updates and live feedback on Twitter which was over projected behind the Panel podium. The event lasted until the late hours of the night and was followed by Hot Drinks and the famous Ramadan desert “Atayef” and also a chance for side talks we bloggers and Twitters had with each other which I enjoyed the most. It was a great and enlightening opportunity and finally a chance to connect faces with Twitter profiles.

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Filed under: iReport •Jordan

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August 21, 2009
Posted: 1058 GMT

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is set to begin tomorrow, people around the Arab world have been preparing for its arrival.

Watch it with Captions

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Filed under: Dubai •Gaza •Islam •Jerusalem •Jordan •Lebanon •Syria

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March 4, 2009
Posted: 1031 GMT

CNN's Arwa Damon sits down with Dr. Israa Al Tawalbeh, Jordan's first female forensics doctor. She examines the body of almost every recorded victim of "honor crimes" in Jordan. According to her, 90 percent of vicims are virgins.

Rym Momtaz/CNN.
Rym Momtaz/CNN.

CNN's Arwa Damon visits the autopsy lab at the Central Forensics Medicine Centre in Amman, Jordan.

Rym Momtaz/CNN.
Rym Momtaz/CNN.

An autopsy table, a body had just been examined here an hour ago.

Rym Momtaz/CNN.
Rym Momtaz/CNN.

Rana Husseini. Jordan Times Journalist and Activist. She was the first journalist to publish detailed reports of instances of "honor crimes" in Jordan.

Rym Momtaz/CNN
Rym Momtaz/CNN

Rana Husseini shows CNN's Arwa Damon archived records of "honor crimes".

Rym Momtaz/CNN
Rym Momtaz/CNN

CNN's Arwa Damon checks her "stand-up" in a graveyard outside of Amman.

Rym Momtaz/CNN.
Rym Momtaz/CNN.

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Filed under: Jordan •Pictures

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Posted: 1015 GMT

From Rym Momtaz

AMMAN, Jordan – The women at the “Home for Family Harmony” fleeing so-called “honor crimes” are between 15 and 25 years old. Alienated and stigmatized by their family, they left their homes for fear of getting killed by a male relative for so much as being rumored to have a relationship or even a phone conversation with a non-related male.

Terrified of being recognized on our screen by one of their relatives and subsequently blowing their cover, they promptly retrenched to their living quarters on the first floor upon hearing of our visit, refusing to even greet us off camera. For them it is a matter of life and death.

After interviewing Amal Azzam, the director of this government-run shelter, tucked away on a remote hill thirty minutes away from the Jordanian capital Amman, I talk my way up the stairs, promising to leave the camera behind.

Rym Momtaz/CNN. Amal Azzam, director of the 'Home for Family Harmony'.
Rym Momtaz/CNN. Amal Azzam, director of the 'Home for Family Harmony'.

Toddlers run around the common living room, their chuckles, meshed with the sound of cartoons blasting from the television, resonate down the hallways. A few women stand at the top of the stairs, almost as though to protect this precious safe haven from any intruders.

The place has a homely feel to it and the women share a very tangible complicity exchanging playful jibes and acting, even for a fleeting moment, like a group of “normal” girlfriends. Shared experiences bring people together, says one of them. That’s one bright side to our situation, interjects a visibly younger woman wearing a colorful headscarf wrapped playfully around her head, had we not come here we wouldn’t have met!

They come here on their own or on the advice of NGOs. Some are also brought here by the civilian police from the Family Protection Unit. Only four months ago they would have automatically been sent to what is known as the “protective detention centers” – a prison where these women are held “for their own security” and are essentially sentenced to life because their safety could not be guaranteed once they returned home. But not anymore.

Rym Momtaz/CNN. A poster at the shelter reads: 'For a family ruled by compassion, affection and respect'.
Rym Momtaz/CNN. A poster at the shelter reads: 'For a family ruled by compassion, affection and respect'.

For up to six months, they live in convivial quarters where they cook together and go on “field trips” when their personal security situation allows it. When they are not getting vocational training, or for the youngest, keeping up with their academic work, they enjoy the fully equipped computer lab, gym and nursery.

They also work one-on-one with specialists who mediate between them and their families. The goal is to dissuade their kin from resorting to violence by displaying medical proof of the women’s virginity, among other things. 90 percent of female victims of so-called “honor crimes” in Jordan are virgins, according to forensics doctors. Ms. Azzam claims that all the women who have returned to their homes through the shelter’s mediation have not suffered any repercussions.

Rym Momtaz/CNN. Surveillance cameras outside the shelter. Ensuring the women's security is a top priority.
Rym Momtaz/CNN. Surveillance cameras outside the shelter. Ensuring the women's security is a top priority.

However, not all the women here are fleeing so-called “honor crimes” because these crimes, horrific as they are remain limited in number (between 15 and 20 recorded cases a year). In fact of the women I met; a majority had fled an abusive marriage.

One of them, with thick dark circles under both her eyes – courtesy of her husband she says – stands tall despite her bruises. Soft-spoken as she is, her words are full of defiance. Staying at the shelter is nothing more than a stepping-stone, she declares, soon she will get back on her feet and will be able to take care of her young daughter without having to worry about her violent husband.

Whatever the reason for their presence here, all these women share a striking resilience devoid of bitterness and disillusionment. Rather they maintain a surprisingly hopeful and positive outlook for the future.

Tune in to this month’s edition of Inside the Middle East to watch Arwa Damon as she examines what is being done to end this ancient phenomenon of “honor crimes”.
As we mark International Women’s Day, Schams Elwazer also brings us the battle of Lebanese women claiming their right to pass on their nationality to their children and foreign husbands and Nic Robertson gives us a rare look at how rights activists are starting to gather momentum in conservative Saudi Arabia denouncing the practice of child brides.

The show premiers today at 09:30 GMT and re-runs tonight at 18:30 GMT
Saturday 08:30 and 19:00 GMT
Sunday 05:30 and 18:30 GMT
And Monday 04:00 GMT

We look forward to reading your feedback and story ideas!

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Filed under: Human Rights •Jordan

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January 10, 2009
Posted: 1852 GMT



–By CNN Producer Jomana Karadsheh


AMMAN, JORDAN – Even without turning on the news, you hear about Gaza every day and almost everywhere in Jordan.


Support for the Palestinians in Gaza has been huge in the Kingdom that is home to the largest Palestinian refugee population in the world. From aid drives to large demonstrations and blood donations, people here are doing what they can to show solidarity with the people of Gaza.


This Saturday afternoon I walked into my hairdresser's shop in Amman. She, like more than half of Jordan's population, is of Palestinian origin. The first thing I saw when I walked in was the pictures of wounded Gazans on one of the Pan-Arab TV news channels she had on.


As most women in the place went about what they were doing, one old lady sat by the TV gazing at the images and mumbling to herself.


I sat close to her sipping on my Turkish coffee, trying to understand what she was saying, but with women chatting and the sound of blow driers and the TV in the background, i could not make what she was saying. I couldn't help but stare at her, there was something about the sadness in her eyes that was different than what i'd seen in other Jordanian eyes since this conflict began.


A few minutes later the images of two children crying with blood streaming down their faces ran on this channel- her voice got a bit louder and i could kind of hear what she was saying "Ya Allah... Ya Allah" – Arabic for "Oh God... Oh God".


She looked at me and asked where I was from, I said Jordanian and asked where she was from, "I am from Gaza" she said with great sadness in her voice. The old lady explained that she is a Palestinian-Jordanian, but most of her family is in Gaza.


"We know of one relative killed so far... Wallahi (By God) I am always watching the news to hear what neighborhoods have been bombed so i can call and check on my family," she said while still staring at the TV.


"You know how cold it is there now? They have no windows, all the glass was shattered...they have no heating.. yesterday i called to check on them and different members of the family had gathered in one place, you know how people feel safer in groups... they have no heating so they were breaking down wooden doors in their homes and burning them for heat. There were about 60 of them and about 25 loaves of bread as a meal for the whole day, so everyone was eating a little bit," she said choking back her tears.


As she slowly got up to leave, the old lady blamed it all on world leaders, especially Arab leaders, and said if it were up to the people, this would not be happening.



The voices on the streets of the Jordanian capital for the past week have mostly called for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador in Amman and cutting diplomatic ties with Israel. But at one demonstration we covered last Sunday there were more extreme calls.


Thousands of men, women and children carrying the banners of the Muslim Brotherhood, the curbed Islamic movement in Jordan, marched in a protest towards the country's parliament.


Women covered from head to toe and children waving small green flags of the movement were repeating the men's chants calling for car bombs to hit Tel Aviv and more rockets to strike Sderot.


In their thousands these demonstrators called for Jihad, martyrdom and blood to avenge the deaths in Gaza.


Although I had covered previous protests in Jordan over the Iraq war, these mass calls and the anger on the streets was the first time I had heard this many people here calling for extremism.


Despite the fears of this current crisis only breeding more extremism and violence in the long run, there are many who remain moderate, but a lot of them see little hope for peace anytime soon in this region.


One of them, a Palestinian-Jordanian who, like many Palestinians, has never visited his family's birthplace said to me: "They think they will destroy Hamas? What they are doing is creating a hundred other Hamas."

Filed under: Gaza •Hamas •Israel •Jordan

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