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2002 December 18 Wednesday
Jordan and Maternal Passing of Citizenship

In Jordan Jews are not allowed to be citizens. Its written into the constitution. What is perhaps less well known is that Jordanian women can't give citizenship to their children. Only Jordanian fathers can. Queen Rania, King Abdullah's wife and a Palestinian herself, announced a decree giving Jordanian women the ability to give their children Jordanian citizenship.

The uproar erup-ted after tribesmen objected that Rania's decree would hand citizenship to hundreds of thousands of stateless Palestinians born to Jordanian-Palestinian mothers. The Palestinian-born queen, they argued, had a hidden agenda: to tilt the fragile demographic balance in this country of six million toward a Palestinian majority. "I don't think Queen Rania intended to create a problem," says Oraib Rantawi, a prominent Palestinian-Jordanian academic recently recruited to advise King Abdullah. "But we have many extreme nationalists who don't want Palestinians to be Jordanians."

The Bedouin complaints were severe enough that the Jordanian government has already backpedalled and said that the granting of citizenship via matrilineal descent will still be examined and approved or disapproved on a case-by-case basis. The Bedouin response was predictable and I have to wonder whether the people who are saying they were surprised by the response are being sincere. More likely it was decided to make the announcement and then watch carefully to see if they could enact this change without encountering too much opposition.

From a demographic perspective the position of the Jews in Israel parallels that of the Bedouins in Jordan. Both are afraid of becoming minorities in their respective countries as Palestinians increase in numbers.

In another example of the role of cousin marriage (see my previous post on consanguineous mating in the Middle East) this article mentions in passing how it is that Palestinian-Jordanian women are marrying non-Jordanians and hence creating this issue in the first place.

But with or without Rania's decree, members of the committee entrusted to implement Jordan First concede, Palestinian girls with Jordanian passports will continue to marry their cousins in the West Bank to rescue them from the misery of Israeli military rule.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 December 18 07:24 PM  Civilizations Clash Of


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