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House modernists fall under attack again

By Khaled Neimat - Feb 18,2014 - Last updated at Feb 18,2014

AMMAN — While discussing the higher education draft law, MPs on Tuesday engaged once again in a debate over the impact of the House-based Mubadara (initiative) group, accusing it of trying to block the bill.

Deputy Mohammad Qatatsheh, who heads the Lower House’s Education Committee, called on the government to “choose between the initiative and the House”.

The government has engaged in meetings and consultations with Mubadara over the past few months, under which the two sides issued a “policy statement” over reforms in the education and higher education sector. Qatatsheh and other MPs criticised the government’s approach to the emerging bloc, which, observers say, constitutes a new pro-modern state trend in a legislature where tribal leaders are still influential.

“It is now clear that the government wants to deal with Mubadara and isolate the rest of the Lower House, including its committees,” Qatatsheh said, adding that attempts to block the bill appeared to be led by Mubadara members behind the scene.

Qatatsheh was joined by other lawmakers in the campaign against Mubadara, which seeks to evolve into a shadow government with clear platforms.

However, veteran MP and former Lower House speaker Saad Hayel Srour, who joined the Mubadara group recently, criticised the bloc’s critics, saying: “Members of this initiative are also MPs, and they have a say.”

He added: “It is not acceptable to shift our discussion from the law to Mubadara.”

Deputy Khalil Attiyeh agreed, adding in response to Qatatsheh: “This initiative is a parliamentary effort that we should respect.”

Prior to adjourning the session, Mubadara members expressed their rejection to what they saw as attempts to censor them and bar their activities.

However, amid the commotion, Deputy Lower House Speaker Ahmad Safadi decided to adjourn the session after it again lost quorum.

This was not the first time that the bloc and its leader MP Mustafa Hamarneh have
come under fire during Lower House sessions.

The last verbal attack was last week, when Deputy Abdul Karim Dughmi criticised Mubadara’s leader Hamarneh for recent remarks during which he warned that tribes might evolve into “unarmed militias” if no proper political environment is created for political activism based on platforms.

Dughmi accused Hamarneh of humiliating tribes and when the discussion evolved into a heated argument, he charged that the Madaba deputy is a “collaborator with the Americans”.

However, Hamarneh then explained that he believes building a civil and modern state should be based on citizenship rather than any other affiliation.

Several MPs told The Jordan Times that there is a campaign targeting the initiative trying to drag it to minor battles in a bid to derail its momentum. 

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