Halloween: a ghost of social inequality in Jordan?

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So, local media outlets went crazy (still are :P) a couple of days ago when a decision came from the Jordanian Government to ban all Halloween parties which are to take place in this weekend (the 31st of October). Of course, people who love to swear and just randomly insult others had a ball. Comments read from : “بستاهلوا عبدة الشياطين” to “ليش الحكومة تمنع حفلة بس فيها تنكر?”.

The Government’s (more specifically the Ministry of Interior) released statement read: ‘All Halloween parties are to be cancelled in Amman as in the recent couple of years, these parties have proved to be troublesome and caused security problems’. In this statement, we have two issues, “in Amman” and “security problems”. Let me tackle the second one first. I am completely with this decision, if there are serious claims that a Halloween party at a hotel for example would be subject to violent attacks. I believe there should be zero tolerance towards these events especially when we are going through a very crucial phase of stability. I read that people disputed this ground of justification by saying: “وين الأمن و الأمان؟ و سيادة القانون ؟ و حرية الأفعال؟”. This is all true, banning parties and celebrations just because certain people oppose it and might react violently against people who are attending these events, is quite dangerous and jeopardises the whole construct of ‘freedom’. but again, the government did not ban private parties, and people who want to enjoy it can still attend parties, but without being public about it, at least not in this sensitive stage that the whole region is going through.

Some people compared it to banning Christmas. But here is the difference I see. Christmas is a RELIGIOUS event. When we compare Halloween to Christmas or to any other religious celebration, we are falling in the same ignorant pit that people who call Halloween ‘a devil worshipping day’. Halloween should not be put under a category which differentiates people. You cannot say these people celebrate Halloween because they belong to a specific religion. It is a Western yearly celebration which is known for kids in costumers going around the neighbourhood asking for candy(trick or treat), older people watching horror movies and a pretty busy day for costume making shops! That’s it. I don’t deny that some celebrate this thing differently, but I am also affirming that any party in Amman, especially in a hotel or a publicly known place, will NOT encourage ‘devil worshiping’. It is just people wearing costumes, eating, drinking or whatever. Banning it according to security reasons, is not the Ministry of Interior’s problem, it’s a society problem, and this leads me to discuss the first part of the official statement: “In Amman”.

Did you notice how the statement did not say in Jordan? it specifically mentioned Amman. Maybe because the past two years, Halloween parties in Amman witnessed attacks on 3 separate one, one where a fire was raised. Or maybe because this event is only known to Amman, as the traditions of the West quickly find a place to adapt there. The simplicity and peacefulness of wearing costumes in Halloween, is probably only known to Ammanis, or let us say those of us who are fortunate enough to have our eyes opened up to different cultures and traditions and celebrations (either through TV, or computers, or schools, or parents, or our ‘social class’). When you raise a kid up and he sees a carved pumpkin with a little girl dressed as a witch or a boy as superman, and he asks what is that? your answer is significant to everything. If you tell him/her these kids are doing a wrong thing, worshipping devils, a disgusting western celebration then they will  grow up to hate anyone and anything related to this, especially when it is only provided to one specific social class. However, if you tell them it’s just a yearly thing where people like to dress up and act like their favourite cartoon character/tv show..etc then they will probably grow up to enjoy it or just not do it without any hatred. How we define a thing is important, and calling it, LIKE MANY LOCAL NEWSPAPERS did: “a very weird celebration which is known to be celebrated by people who like to wear weird things and masks” does not derive positive reactions.

Also, I read a comment, and I liked it, no matter how controversial it is: “لازم إلغاء كل ما ليس متوفر لجميع طبقات المجتمع”. I like this statement because when you offer something to one class but not to another, hate and frustration will be produced. This leads to violence and a gap widened between two people who live in the same country. I am studying social inequality and its relation to crime now, so I will not be able to elaborate on this until the end of this year 😛 but I thought it is something to think about.

Other than that, why not start by calling it like I do: a yearly thing in the West where children dress up in very cute outfits and older people attend parties(like every other weekend) in very creative costumes.

I may have confused you a lot in this blogpost, but like Halloween, I am really very simple 🙂

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