Jordanian Soccer Violence Injures 250 Bedouin and PA Arabs
Fans of two rival Jordanian soccer teams clashed Friday night at the King Abdullah Stadium in Amman, leaving 250 people injured, including 30 police officers.
The violence underscored the deep divisions between the Hashemite Kingdom’s native Bedouin clans and those citizens who identify as Palestinian Authority Arabs, and two major news organizations offered opposing versions as to how the violence started.
One of the teams, Wehdat, is comprised of and supported by the PA Arab Jordanians; the other, Faisali, is comprised of and supported by Jordan’s native Bedouin citizens. Wehdat won the game, beating Faisali 1-0 in a key match that qualified the team for the national league.
Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said the incident began when some of the crowd in the upper seating level began throwing bottles at fans of the losing team, “who are required by regulations to leave the stadium first to avoid interaction with fans of the other team,” according to CNN.
However, Associated Press quoted a witness, Ali Qasrawi, who said that Faisali’s supporters left the stadium and began hurling bottles and stones at Wehdat’s supporters from outside the stadium, which triggered a stampede.
Most of the injuries occurred when a large metal fence separating spectators from the playing field collapsed, police spokesman Colonel Ahmed Abu-Hamad told AP.
Many native Jordanians reportedly feel the PA Arab immigrants and their descendants – some of whom have lived in the country for generations -- have no real allegiance to the Hashemite Kingdom. For their part, many PA Arab Jordanians who carry Jordanian passports complain of discrimination, saying they are barred from upper echelon government positions.
The tension between the two populations is long-standing; at last year’s match between the same teams, Faisali fans chanted taunts against the ancestry of Queen Rania, born in a part of Israel claimed by the PA, and her son, Crown Prince Hussein.
According to a diplomatic memo leaked by WikiLeaks, U.S. diplomats later said they were “puzzled” by King Abdullah II’s lack of response to the “verbal attack on his family.” The Hashemite clan is of Bedouin heritage.
Many Israelis and other historians have long held that Jordan is Palestine, as the Bedouin are not longstanding, uncontested rulers of the kingdom that has existed only since 1921. In fact, King Abdullah, installed on April 1, 1921 as the first ruler of Jordan said "Palestine and Jordan are one..." in 1948 and in 1981,.King Hussein of Jordan said "The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan" . Abdul Hamid Sharif, Prime Minister of Jordan said, in 1980, "The Palestinians and Jordanians do not belong to different nationalities. They hold the same Jordanian passports, are Arabs and have the same Jordanian culture."
More than 2/3 of the Jordanian people are Arab 'Palestinians' and Jordan occupies 77% of the original Palestine Mandate (originally promised to the Jewish people in the Balfour Declaration) and given to the Arabs by Britain to appease them. The population density of Jordan is less than 61 people per square mile leaving enough room to absorb many of the ' Palestinian refugees.'. Before it attacked Israel without provocation in June 1967 and was forced to return Judea, Samaria and part of Jerusalem to Israeli sovereignty, the kingdom was called 'Transjordan', as it occupied terrirtory on both sides of the Jordan River.