I am Not a Minority | Alia Sito, Jordan


28/July/2016

A few days ago there was a workshop that included a meeting about minorities in Jordan, the included minorities in this workshop were: Caucasians (Chechens and Circasians), Kurds, Pakistanis and Druze. I received the invitation as a Jordanian activist from Chechen ancestry living in Jordan. The topic of the workshop seemed interesting and caught my attention, however, it made me question the real reason behind this meeting, or workshop as they called it. The question that came to mind was, why now especially when the whole area we live in (The Middle East) is in a religious and ethnic war did they bring up this topic? My Chechen ancestors came to Jordan in 1890’s, which is about fifty years before Jordan becoming an independent kingdom. So frankly I was very hesitant about going to that meeting as they claimed it to be. But I went there anyway, to see what that meeting was about exactly.

As the meeting began we were shown a short video about their project, after which a young lady introduced herself to everyone, and she began to give a short brief about all the groups of the minorities that attended, the ones I mentioned earlier. After that short brief she asked us if we had anything to say or ask, so I simply raised my hand and introduced myself to all, and told her, that I do not like being classified as a minority in Jordan, I added that despite my origins and where my ancestors originally came from, I do hold the Jordanian nationality and ID and that my ancestors came to these parts of the Middle East even before it was called The Hashemite Kingdom Of Jordan, that’s like over a hundred years ago. So why do we look at each other in this racist way even if we don’t mean it? She said “the point is to get to know each other” as if I don’t have Arab friends! After that conversation with her she started asking us if there are any civil rights that we don’t have as minorities in Jordan. And that question really made me angry so I reminded her once again that we are not considered to be minorities since we hold the Jordanian nationality, so basically this means that we do have our civil rights as Jordanian citizens not as minorities and that these rights are given to us based on the citizenship not our origins. So why do we have to be constantly reminded that we are not Jordanians? Aren’t the Latinos and African Americans also Americans despite where they come from? Same goes for Europe too. So I told her if I wasn’t Jordanian and did not get all my civil rights would I be studying at the university on a full military scholarship that I got due to my mom’s serving in the Jordanian military?

I really hate the fact that people still see us as a minority in this country although the late King Hussein Bin Talal once said “those who have Jordanian nationality are equal despite their origins”. Of course I will never forget where I came from, but that is something for me to deal and live with, I’m the one who will remind people of my Chechen ancestry of my origins when it is needed only.

It is not a subject that needs to be brought up every once and while or in daily life by some people who simply still consider us as a minority in the Jordanian society. I live in Jordan, I’m loyal to this country and to its people and it will always be like that just as my heart and mind will always have Chechnya in them as well, but the greater part of me will always be loyal to Jordan!!! So why do we classify people like that, why do we classify each other like that? Based on our origins and religion, saying oh He’s a Muslim, Christian, and Jew. Or hey he is Asian, European, African, Arab, White or black, why do we do that? Why can’t we accept the fact that we are all humans and at some point back in history we share the same grandfather Adam.

I want to be treated as the human being I am, not to be classified for something I didn’t have a choice in nor the will to choose. Some of you may disagree with me and some might agree, maybe I’m wrong to say this, maybe I’m right, who knows? 

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