By Middle East Affairs
A family teaches their kids why they are experiencing tough times by taking them to a rally in Jordan.
When Bayan Samara’s is questioned by her children as to why she can’t afford to buy them new toys or clothes, she said, “It breaks my heart. So we help them understand that these are tough times because we have a government that includes ‘bad guys’, like my son says.”
She took her kids to the protest in Amman, along with her husband Ahmad. Both are struggling to provide for the family in Jordan’s economy.
Samara’s family is one of the thousands that hit the streets in Amman, a rarity that led to the resignation of the prime minister of Jordan on Monday.
The last two years have been extremely tough with prices continuing to skyrocket, Samara and Ahman had to change their kids to a lower quality public school and get rid of their health insurance. With the two of them working, they say that they make just enough to pay house loans and daily expenses for their two kids aged 6 and 8.
Samara blames the governments for their economic policies and IMF mandated tax reforms. She isn’t the only one, the Jordanian public at larger is angry since the government ended bread subsidies, and taxes went up this year so the country could pay its $37 billion debt to the IMF.
She said, “I’m worried that despite all this hope, things will stay exactly the same. People are under pressure. There’s a feeling of defeat in the family. At the end of the day, we had to make do with the reality. This is why we protest, for a better future for our children, for us.”
Jordan’s government has said that the new taxes will provide much-needed funds for public services, alongside reforms which are needed to lower social divides between the classes. Jordanians, however, are saying that it wastes public money and that the poor are hardest hit by the new policies.
Ahmad said, “My dream was to build myself in this country that I love,” now he sells vending machines amidst a business ruined by bribery and low demand. He lived in Saudi Arabia for several years but wished to come home to Amman to be closer to his family and start his own business. The current economic situation worries him that he will have to go abroad once more in order to provide for his family.
The king who is much loved replaced his premiere in hopes of quenching public dissatisfaction and spoke of the need to address the issue of taxes this week. King Abdullah choose Omar Al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, to be the new prime minister. Upon taking office Al-Razzaz announced that he will end the planned income tax law hoping to satisfy demands of the protestors.
As the days have carried on protests have seen smaller numbers, with some satisfied with the new government changes and hoping for more new representatives who will yield to their demands and slash price rises.
Other like Samara and Ahmad say that new government positions won’t bring about changes, Jordan needs reforms in policy.
Ahmad said, “There is some optimisim…but this is about the approach in running the country. Razzaz alone cannot change this even though he is a very competent man.”
He doesn’t wish Jordan to go through what other Arab countries went through in 2011 but hopes that the protests inspire his government to make better decisions suited to the people.
In a rally that Ahmad attended with his family, protestors around them held Jordanian flags, chanted: “Bread, freedom, social justice.”
Ahmad said, “I brought my children with me so they will know there is a possibility for change. I don’t want them to be afraid of change.”