Islamists receive big blow in Jordan’s Engineers Association elections

Special Islamists receive big blow in Jordan’s Engineers Association elections
One in every 40 Jordanians is an engineer, making Jordan the country with the most engineers per capita globally, according to the Jordanian Engineers Association. (Getty Images)
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Updated 20 February 2022
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Islamists receive big blow in Jordan’s Engineers Association elections

Islamists receive big blow in Jordan’s Engineers Association elections
  • Mutaz Shawareb: Numo — which won Friday’s governorate elections — represents a wide range of engineers who are “unhappy with the way the union worked after 25 years of Islamist influence”
  • Making accusations of electoral meddling and forgery, the Islamists announced that they were withdrawing from elections for the engineering sectors

AMMAN: Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood movement has received a huge setback after losing control over the Engineers Association in recent elections.

By losing in places such as Zarqa and Irbid on Friday, the Islamists have lost their last stronghold in Jordan.

Numo — which won Friday’s governorate elections — represents a wide range of engineers who are “unhappy with the way the union worked after 25 years of Islamist influence,” said long-time union activist Mutaz Shawareb. 

Shawareb, a civil engineer, is a nominee on the winning Numo list.

“For years, we have been trying to change the election process to allow for proportional representation and to lower the age of nominees. Despite earlier agreements, the Islamists have rejected the reforms for as long as they have been in power.”

Making accusations of electoral meddling and forgery, the Islamists announced on Saturday that they were withdrawing from elections for the engineering sectors, the office of the head of the union, and the secretariat of the union.

A leader from the Islamist Unified List claimed that Friday’s elections included “the usurping of the will of the engineers as a result of external interventions, bad management, and lack of guarantees for the freedom, integrity, and secrecy of the polls.” 

Engineer Badi Rafia of the Unified List told Arab News that the withdrawal from any further participation was done as a protest against “blatant, rude and direct interventions.”

Rafia, also a prominent leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, added: “What happened is a violation of the basic rights of freedom and secrecy of the elections.

“Therefore, we have decided to stay away from this farce comedy so as to keep our professional union independent and to protect the integrity of Jordanian engineers.”

Rafia said that “unprecedented interference by all the parties in the elections led to the forgery of the will of the engineers and their free voices.”

Veteran unionist Shawareb, however, scoffed at the accusations by the losing Islamists.

“Their reaction to the loss was withdrawal from the elections, and this is the kind of excuse that losers make when they are unable to win at the ballot box.”

Zaid O. Nabulsi, a strong critic of Islamists in Jordan, told Arab News that their excuse for the loss was “laughable.”

Nabulsi said: “They are objecting to the fact that their opponents lobbied and united against them.”

He added: “Well, Islamists have been lobbying since the 1970s against us in mosques, schools, universities, and even on street corners.

“Now that they lost, they are playing the victim role, claiming — without proof — that others have forged the results.”

Nabulsi said that the “Muslim Brotherhood are fighting for survival after they were exposed.”

“Ironically, the only place in the region that they have found a foothold is inside the Israeli Knesset, where they have allied with the nastiest right-wing Zionist in the history of the entity,” Nabulsi said.

On Jan. 26, the Islamic Action Front, which is considered the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, announced withdrawal from participation in the local council elections planned for March 22.

Murad Adaileh, director-general of the Islamic Action Front, told Arab News that authorities had failed to take advantage of the “positive results of the recent royal commission for the modernization of political processes.”

A number of prominent Islamists were nominated to the commission, including the head of the fifth Shoura Council Hamzeh Mansour, the former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Abdel Rahim Okor, and former MPs from the Islamic Action Front Dima Tahboub and Ibrahim Al-Izz.

“Although we agreed to some of the results of the royal commission and rejected others, there was premeditation in passing constitutional changes,” Adaileh said. “These changes aimed to transform the country into an absolute monarchy while weakening the authority of the government and instituting policies based on limited freedom, as has been demonstrated in action against a member of the Islamic Action Front in parliament and the arrest of protestors against normalization with the Zionist enemy.”

The Islamists were also sharply criticized by Omar Kullab in an op-ed on Sunday for the Jordanian daily Al-Rai: “What has led to the losses in the Engineers Association elections is a result of their attitude of denial — a refusal to admit the problems that they are facing.”