Rana Hussaini, Jordan Times
“This is almost a weekly activity and we plan on coming here every Monday until our demands are met,” said Nimat Habashneh, founder of the campaign “My mother is Jordanian, and her nationality is a right for me.”
Women’s groups and activists have been demanding for years that Jordanian women be allowed to pass on their citizenship to their children and spouses, a right that only men enjoy.
These women face various difficulties such as obtaining visas and residency permits for their husbands and children; shuttling between police stations and health centres every year to get security clearances and medical reports.
Last November, the government formed a ministerial committee headed by the interior minister to examine the possibility of granting civil rights to children of Jordanian women married to foreigners.
Speaking at an unofficial Lower House meeting on Monday, Interior Minister Hussein Majali said the government is working on granting these children access to certain services for humanitarian reasons.
The government wants to preserve the Jordanian identity as much the Palestinian one, he noted, adding that granting these children civil rights is aimed at facilitating their daily lives rather than paving the way for granting them full citizenship in the future.
Majali said there are between 300,000 and 350,000 children of transnational marriages living in Jordan, who do not have health insurance, cannot enrol in public schools and cannot obtain driving licences.
The government will grant them these privileges, the minister said.
At a Lower House session in May, Majali said that “granting services-related privileges to husbands and children of Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians is a matter of time”.
“We keep hearing rumours that this committee will not grant us full civil rights, plus we are sticking to our demand of full citizenship for our children,” Habashneh, who is married to a non-Jordanian and has six children, told The Jordan Times.
Around 84,000 Jordanian women married to foreigners live in the Kingdom, according to government figures.
Government officials have said in the past that the decision not to allow Jordanian women married to foreigners to pass on their nationality is “solely political”.
Individuals and entities that oppose granting citizenship to family members of these women, particularly those with Palestinian husbands, say such a measure will only work to ensure “Israel’s ultimate plan of creating a substitute homeland for Palestinians in Jordan”.
Saleh Abu Loz, 32, one of Monday’s protesters with a Jordanian mother and Palestinian father, expressed his dismay over the procedures he has to go through every year because he is a holder of a Palestinian travel document.
“In Europe they offer passports to animals and here in Jordan in my own country I waste a month of my life every year shuttling between security departments to renew my residency permit,” Abu Loz told The Jordan Times.
He said he lost a scholarship to study in New Zealand because he does not have a Jordanian passport, “although I was born in this country and I am loyal and devoted to it”.
Abu Loz said he is also finding it hard to get married.
“Parents are hesitant to allow me to marry the woman I love out of fear that she will struggle in the future because I don’t have Jordanian citizenship,” he said.
“What is happening to me and thousands of people is unjust, and this frustrating situation will eventually lead to an explosion.”
SOURCE: JORDAN TIMES