Authors: D.Rad Research Teams

Notwithstanding the importance of Islam for the social, cultural and political life of the country, since its independence, Jordan has not been characterized as a religious state. The Jordanian Constitution, issued in 1952, has become one of the model constitutions in the Arab world in the modern era and a pioneering Charter in granting political participation to society as a whole. 

At the same time, Jordanians have suffered for long decades from the lack of economic prosperity, unemployment, unequal opportunities, widespread corruption, nepotism, lack of respect for the rule of law and the failure of the government to prevent such injustices. This has fostered insecurity among Jordanians, especially the youth, creating a dangerous and vulnerable social and political environment. Additionally, the regional instabilities and the repeated influx of migrants and refugees from turbulent countries like Iraq and Syria, the long occupation of Palestine by Israel, along with the Salafi influence in Jordan, have all combined to nurture a fertile background for radicalization and extremism. Despite Jordan being in itself a country with relative political stability and one of the trusted U.S and coalition partners against ISIS and the Islamic State, several foreign fighters come from Jordan. Overall, the feelings of injustice, grievance, alienation and polarization especially among Jordanian youth have been invested to recruit followers to join radical movements.

This explains why Jordan has adopted several initiatives in order to fight radicalisation through law.

For instance, it has ratified many international agreements related to combating terrorism, the most relevant being the Arab Convention on Combating Terrorism and the International Convention for the Suppression and Financing of Terrorism of 2003. Moreover, the Jordanian Penal Code dating back to the ‘60s was emended in 2006 with the Anti-Terrorism Law no. 55, also due to the Amman hotel bombings in 2005. 

However, according to some lawyers and legal activists, there may be some misunderstandings when it comes to laws related to extremism and radicalization, and not to terrorism. In fact, the law originally criminalized the call to extremist ideology or the use of weapons. Yet, it was applied to mere extremist attitudes as well, without a strict resort to the legal text provisions. The courts too did not differentiate between embracing the ideology, performing the terrorist act or promoting it. This law was amended in 2014, redefining terrorism to expand the criminalization of a number of acts that are to be considered “terrorist”, and again, for a third time, it was amended in 2016 acknowledging broad powers to administrative rulers and security and military agencies under the pretext of countering terrorist acts and radicalization. 

As far as national policies are concerned, the plan to confront extremism was prepared by the government in 2014. It aimed at confronting extremism with a joint effort facing all its aspects — educational, cultural, political, social, economic and religious. Therefore, ministries and public institutions were deemed responsible to achieve this goal as well as to address the manifestations of extremism and radicalization that began invading the region, targeting mainly young people as a result of global, regional and local conditions. 

The armed forces have always played a pivotal role in combating extremism and terrorism through preventive activities, but the national governmental strategy envisaged other two additional actions. Namely, an international security and intelligence dimension with other countries that have good foreign relations with Jordan and an intellectual dimension aiming at immunizing both individuals and society from extremist thought. For instance, awareness programs, workshops, and trainings were organised, in order to highlight the severe consequences that accompany any extremist or radicalized thought or action and awareness-raising programs focused on prison setting to mitigate the spread of any unpleasant extremist thought among inmates. Nevertheless, awareness programs and workshops need some further improvement, since they are insufficient and often lack professional strategic plans.

In Jordan, countering radicalization should start from modifying the educational system which should focus on the Islamic moderation, Islamic tolerance, respect and pluralism. On the other hand, state institutions should create and supervise activities and events, in order to infuse civic engagement as well, especially among young generations. 

For more insights, see the Report >> which overviews Jordan‘s the legal and policy framework on (de)radicalization. The report provides a conceptual account on how existing policies and laws address radicalization in Jordan and identify some of the key critical aspects as well as good practices that can inform evidence-based policymaking.