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Building on the 'civilised' manner of protests

Jun 06,2018 - Last updated at Jun 06,2018

Commenting on the civilised manner the protests against the income tax draft law and social injustice, among others, His Majesty King Abdullah has said that he was happy to see the refined behaviour of thousands of the country's youth from all backgrounds and walks of life. 

So far so good: No violence, no friction with security forces, high morale and respect of the law, coupled with a soft approach by police, and a high degree of cordiality between the protesters and the men in uniform.

Maybe it is premature to label what has been happening as a "phenomenon" or a "trend" that will be sustained in the future, but all agree it is a positive development, regardless of what observers think of the demands being raised in terms of their reasonability. 

What should be done, and the ball is in the court of both the youth and the leadership, is to build on that to incorporate this positive civil action into a multi-faceted culture of change, which the country badly needs.

Young people, who have exhibited a high degree of awareness and keenness to serve the interests of the public, must reflect this awareness in everyday life from now on. They should use the platforms they are using to promote the supremacy of law, fight all forms of corruption, petty and grand, encourage social solidarity and, above all, seek a new social contract under which people who are supposed to finance the state through a long list of taxes and fees receive, in return, good-quality services and fair representation. 

This requires that these youth be invited to a serious national dialogue that produces new rules of the game and have their say in policymarking. Some have suggested that the protest leaders get together to establish a political party; This is doable and has great potential. After all, the old guard in the establishment and political parties would not step aside unless the new generation pushes them aside, especially with the popularity and the respect they have gained from the public and the King.

Only then life would be breathed into the idea of electing a prime minister, from a parliamentary majority, the endgame that, as His Majesty acknowledged, has been difficult to reach due to the poor performance of political parties. 

The young Jordanians who, untill the writing of this article, have turned the Fourth Circle into an iconic venue to call for change share a lot with their peers in other governorates. They should capitalise on this situation to achieve more and help the country transform into a genuinely modern state where the law and institutions rule.  

These very people want governments to think out of the box and come up with creative solutions to our problems and challenges. Nothing is better than young minds in thinking critically and examining and addressing the status quo with fresh eyes. Let us give them the chance to jump behind the steering wheel and take it from there.

 

The writer is the deputy chief editor of The Jordan Times

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