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Al Batayneh: The Resurgence of Violence in Jordanian Universities Through Political Parties

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Eng. Saleem Al-Batayneh

In his seminal work on political parties, French historian and political theorist Alexis De Tocqueville (1805-1859) classified political parties into two categories: those that mesmerize society with their machinations and those that upend society with their ideas. This dichotomy is especially pertinent today as Jordan grapples with the resurgence of violence and strife in its universities, driven by the re-emergence of political parties on campus.

Democracy, paradoxically, can sometimes be its own worst enemy. There is no universal political system that fits all nations; each country must develop a political framework that aligns with its unique characteristics, ensuring security and societal peace. Yet, we find ourselves lamenting the disasters we have created within our universities, with violence and strife rearing their heads once more.

This campus violence is a latent evil, an extension of societal violence, threatening to suppress patriotism in students by introducing divisive loyalties. University students, vocal and daring in expressing their discontent amid Jordan’s challenging social and economic transformations, have found their ambitions undermined by the absence of a genuine political outlet.

The current scene mirrors past tragedies, such as the Al-Hussein University incident in Ma’an nine years ago, where innocent students fell victim to campus violence. Universities are meant to be sanctuaries of learning, not battlegrounds for partisan disputes or arenas for chaos fueled by political parties. Silence on this issue under the guise of political reform threatens to undo years of tranquility within our academic institutions.

Personally, I maintain that Jordanian society and the state are not yet mature enough to sustain modern national political parties. The political or ideological division often signals the beginning of state failure. Effective political work requires an awareness of power dynamics, the immunity of political figures, and the ability to manage complex issues.

A year ago, Senate Speaker Faisal Al-Fayez expressed similar concerns during a Ramadan meeting with Jordanian media professionals. He stated that the nascent political parties are ill-equipped to handle future challenges due to their ineffective structures and stagnation. Job and living stability, priorities for most Jordanians, hinder active participation in party work. The strength of the Jordanian state lies in its national unity and social cohesion, supported by a robust media.

We must reassess our approach before it is too late. The pervasive poverty, unemployment, frustration, and lack of reassurance among university students about their future cannot be ignored. When reassurance is missing, anxiety and fear dominate, hindering students from achieving their personal and professional goals.

There are agents of chaos who have infiltrated our universities through the portal of political parties, spreading strife and division. It is imperative to address this issue urgently to preserve the peace and unity of our academic institutions and, by extension, our nation.

Eng. Al Batayneh was a member of the Jordanian Parliament.