Videos of Jordanians releasing celebratory firefighters flooded social media the day after the country’s legislative election on November 10. This traditional practice is deeply divisive in Jordan. While some people were quick to celebrate their candidate’s victory by firing into the sky, other Jordanians – like our observer – pointed out that the exercise is incredibly dangerous.
The videos that flood social media show all kinds of Jordanians releasing celebratory shootings. For example, one video shows a child firing an automatic rifle at the sky, while another shows a woman lifting a Kalashnikov and releasing a firefly from her balcony while traditional Jordanian music is played. Another shows shots fired from a redundant audience.
More than 50,000 members of the security forces were deployed across the country’s 12 governors to ensure the smooth running of the election and to ensure that people respect proper health measures in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, including a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people. But these measures did not stop the parties armed with automatic rifles and handguns that unleashed to express their joy over the election results.
Those who voted in this election included representatives of various tribes, independents and wealthy businessmen.
This video shows several men shooting kalashnikovs. “Mahmoud”, the name of the candidate they support, is written on banners that are hung on the hood, windshield and windows of a camouflage-painted truck. Mahmoud is a candidate from the al-Mahamid tribal clan in the Ma’an government in the south of the country.
“I thought it was the Al-Nusra Front,” jokes the social media user, referring to a jihadist group in Syria.
In this video, a child fires an automatic rifle into the air.
This video shows a woman releasing the security prisoner from her kalashnikov and firing into the air from her balcony while traditional Jordanian music is playing loud.
“The liberation of women,” says this social media user sarcastically.
This video, published online by our observer Kadhim Amine, shows a crowd carrying one of the elected officials. The sound of shots being fired is mixed with the happy screams.
بهاد الثيريد رح احط فيديوهات التجمعات بالاحتفال بفوز بعض المرشحين ولن اذكر اسم المرشح او المنطقة, لأنه احنا الشعب متعودين على الاحتفال بعد هيك مناسبات و الحكومة عملت حظر شامل 4 ايام بعد الانتخابات لتتفادى هذه المشكلة لكنها لم تسيطر على الاحتفالات pic.twitter.com/IUamtbRm1G
– أاظم أمين (ابو سامح) (@KathemAmin) 11 November 2020
Translation: ” […] The government imposed a curfew for four days to avoid this type of spectacle but it was in vain. ”
This video, edited together as a video, shows supporters of a certain candidate firing their weapons into the air as they move in a convoy of pick-ups. The song that was played during the film was extremely popular in the days leading up to the election.
“The target is selected and Kalashnikov is ready … prepare chests!” says the chorus.
The man behind the song, a young Palestinian singer from Gaza named Abdallah al-Saaïda, was widely criticized for his lyrics, and many Jordanians said he called for violence. The singer made a public apology on television and explained that the song had come out long before the election and that it had nothing to do with it. His video received more than six million views on YouTube.
Translation: “If not for the election, I would have thought that the terrorist organization Islamic State had invaded the country.”
Our Observer, Kadhim Amine, is a 29-year-old perfume seller living in Amman. He took to Twitter to complain about the tradition of celebrating shootings. He said it was rare to see this kind of thing happen in the Jordanian capital:
Most of these incidents did not take place in the capital Amman, but in other provinces where there is more influence from tribal clans, including Irbid and Ma’ane and the Badiah Shamaliyah and Badiah Janoubiyah districts, mainly among the Bedouin.
Firearms have been circulating within the tribal clans for a long time in Jordan; it’s a tradition. And people sometimes shoot in the air during a wedding or when a student graduates.
With that said, I have never seen such a strong wave of celebratory shots as what has happened in recent days and there are many Jordanians like me who are shocked and worried about it.
This is even more surprising, because in Jordan you must have a permit to carry a weapon by law. Before you buy a gun, you must obtain permission from the Directorate of Public Security and Intelligence.
In addition to the ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, the authorities also imposed a four-day curfew between 10pm and 6am starting on 11 November to avoid this type of spectacle. But many people break these rules, as shown in these videos.
Jordanian King Abdallah first spoke about this tradition five years ago and promised that people who participated would be punished.
“Even if my own son fired bullets, action would be taken against him,” the king said. However, it seems that no one listened to his words.
On November 12, the king again condemned this type of party in a tweet, saying that the law applied to everyone without exception.
The Jordanian Security Directorate announced on Facebook that they would arrest anyone who was seen firing a gun in the videos that have been circulating online in recent days. A total of 98 weapons, several of them automatic, were seized during operations, the directorate’s spokesman said in a statement published online on November 14.
A total of 18 MPs and 324 citizens were arrested, Hussein Hawatmeh, head of the Directorate-General for Public Security, told the Jordanian TV channel Al-Mamlaka TV. Fortunately, no one died from an injury caused by a wildfire, according to Jordanian media.
Between 1,500 and 1,869 people are believed to have died due to accidents with celebratory shootings between 2013 and 2018, according to Al-Mamlaka TV.