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Citizenship is not a commodity

Nov 14,2018 - Last updated at Nov 14,2018

The government decided on Sunday to have another look at the regulations governing granting of the Jordanian nationality to foreigners by raising the financial stakes for their eligibility.

Depositing $1.5 million with the Central Bank of Jordan, purchasing no less than $1.5 million worth of Jordanian treasury bonds or even buying stakes in Jordanian companies worth $1.5 million are all well and good revisions, but making the price of citizenship higher does not go far enough. The Jordanian nationality has no price and cannot be measured in US dollars or Jordanian dinars. There must be something much more important and valuable for obtaining the Jordanian nationality.

One would have thought, therefore, that the government would revisit other factors for citizenship qualification that go beyond money. What about having potential citizen take a test, like all countries do when they grant citizenship to foreigners, with a view to determining the extent of their knowledge of the history of the country and its goals and aspirations.

Potential citizens must be also sensitive to the culture of the country, and its regional and international challenges. Above all, there is a need to gauge the extent of their solemn loyalty to the country.

None of these non-material testing grounds appear to figure highly in the process leading to granting citizenship to foreign applicants. And come to think of it, why not invite Parliament to have a look also at the citizenship process for foreign applicants. The people's representatives need to have voice in this important policy.

Being a Jordanian is a very serious matter and taking it should not be for serving applicants' immediate needs. Otherwise, the Jordanian nationality would become a citizenship of convenience.

Jordanians at large would want to make sure that no one is contemplating taking Jordan for a ride, to serve their own immediate and perhaps temporary goals. This whole process of granting citizenship to investors requires another look, a look that is deeper and multidimensional.

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