AMMAN: Jordan’s lower house descended into a mass brawl on Tuesday after a heated discussion over controversial constitutional amendments.
In an instant, a group of MPs engaged in fisticuffs, following verbal altercations and an exchange of insults between House Speaker Abdul Karim Dughmi and Deputy Suleiman Abu Yahya, who accused Dughmi of an “inability to run the show.”
With the session running out of control, Dughmi, the parliament’s longest-serving lawmaker, had to adjourn the session for 30 minutes.
The mess began when Tuesday’s session opened with a discussion on proposed constitutional amendments, under which the term “female Jordanians” was added to the title of the second chapter of the constitution on Jordanians’ rights and duties.
Some MPs, especially women, claim that the amendment will create discrimination between Jordanians based on gender.
Defending the amendments, head of the house’s legal committee, MP Abdulmunim Oddat, said that the term “Jordanian women” adds no new provisions to the constitution and was only meant to create “linguistic equality.”
But Oddat was unable to proceed with his defense as many lawmakers yelled at him in objection to the proposed amendment, requesting that the term “Jordanian females” be scrapped.
Having his request to adjourn the session to contain the situation rejected by Dughmi, Abu Yahya told the speaker: “You are unable to run the show … you know nothing.” Infuriated, Dughmi told Abu Yahya: “Shut up and leave the hall.”
Then things fell apart and the session descended into chaos.
The government has referred a total of 30 constitutional amendments to the lower house, which stipulate the establishment of a national security and foreign policy council to be headed by the king.
The house’s legal committee has revisited the government’s proposed amendments and reworded the provision without the phrase “to be headed by the king.”
The panel said that the king is constitutionally the head of state and head of the executive authority and therefore there is “no need for that phrase.”
It added that the women’s amendment “defends the rights of that social class” and “increases their effective role in building society,” integrating them fully according to the principle of rights, duties, social justice and equal opportunity.