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King’s discussion paper sends right messages at right time — analysts

By Mohammad Ghazal - Oct 16,2016 - Last updated at Oct 16,2016

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah drew a line in the sand regarding the aspired civil state, helping remove all doubts and controversies on the country's position in this respect, opinion leaders said on Sunday.

In the sixth Royal Discussion Paper "Rule of Law and Civil State", the Monarch presented a roadmap on how to reach to the desired civil state, where law applies to all and where religion is a key contributor to the value system and social norms.

"The paper comes at a very important time, when there is a heated debate across the country among various segments of the society on the concept of the civil state," Mohammed Al Tal, chief editor of Ad-Dustour daily, told The Jordan Times.

"The King succeeded in drawing a clear picture of what the envisioned civil state is. He removed all doubts and fears engulfing the concept, particularly regarding the perception that a civil state is one without religion," Tal added.

The paper sets the records straight by emphasising that only when social justice, equality and the rule of law prevail, prosperity and development will ensue, they said.

“Amidst the turmoil, and particularly the ideological turmoil in the region, the King’s message came at the right time… He insisted that what we want is not a secular state where religion is irrelevant, and stressed on being a country where religion is enshrined, and that no one should be allowed to manipulate religion to serve political interests or gains for a specific group,” Tal added.

In the discussion paper released on Sunday, the King underlined confusion and lack of understanding of what the term “civil state” really stands for.

“This is not synonymous with a secular state,” the King said, stressing that a civil state is one that is governed by a constitution and laws that apply to all citizens without exception and that it is a state built on peace, tolerance and harmony and is distinguished for respecting and safeguarding pluralism, respecting different opinions and protecting all members of the community, regardless of their religious or intellectual affiliation.

Al Ghad columnist Fahed Khitan agreed with Tal that the discussion paper came at a time when there is a serious turning point and things are escalating in society amidst heated debates on many issues, such as changes to the school curricula and other matters.

“The King presented a concept for the civil state that can be embraced by the majority,” Khitan said over the phone Sunday.

In the 6th discussion paper — the first one was released in 2012 — King Abdullah offered a recipe on how to make the desirable change, Khitan said, adding that the document constituted a roadmap towards a true civil state.

Samih Maaytah, former minister of state for media affairs and political analyst, said the paper came as the final say in the ongoing debate, delivering the right messages at the right time.

“When the King orders the government to end all violations in recruitment and when he slams nepotism, he sends a clear message to all that loyalty and belonging to the country are measured by how much one respects the law,” he said.

The former official noted that the debate over the concept of civil state heated up after the killing of writer Nahed Hattar and the recent changes to syllabi.

“The King made it clear that this is an Islamic country where all minorities and religions are respected. He made it clear that the concept of the civil state does not clash with religion,” Maaytah added.

In a column Sunday, Jumana Ghneimat, chief editor of Al Ghad daily, said the King’s message was decisive about the desired civil state and the Jordanian identity as well.

The paper reflects the King’s understanding that there are misconceptions concerning the nature of civil state, she said.

The King made it clear that diversity is an asset and a main drive for prosperity at all levels, but it can also be used to fuel sectarianism and conflicts, stressing that it is the rule of law that draws the line between the first and second reality.

 

“All public and private institutions, the society at large and every segment of the population need to follow the path towards a civil state that is based on the rule of law which is enforced on all,” she said.

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