Thursday, May 21, 2009

The superhero

Ibrahim doesn’t wear his underwear over his pants, nor can bend steal with his bare hands, but he can make a quality website layout quicker than anyone in Saudi Arabia. Or so they believed the people who hired him and kept calling Ibrahim the “super hero” during his stay in Riyyad at a software company.
He hated Saudi Arabia; he detested the religiousness, the shortsightedness, the hypocrisy, the weather and the ever-present sand. And so he went back to Amman, got a less-paid job but felt that the air and the hijabs were not as thick as in the south.
His family is originally from Nablus, the mountainous city in the north of the West Bank. Born to parents who are extremely religious, he, like many other (but still small minority) revolted: dropped out of his Muslim Brotherhood youth camp (yes, it’s true: they have like Boy Scout camps, where they do treks from e.g. Amman to as-Salt. Without guns mind you). This caused him to be shunned by his old friends and almost caused a non-reparable split with his father. Now our superhero lives with some friends just off Rainbow Street and last night we all had a few beers on their front yard and discussed everything from the loudness of the adjacent mosque to how cats seemed to prefer Tuborg to Amstel when they licked our cans. They (the cats) didn’t bother us after awhile, go figure.
He is also a documentary filmmaker (like half of Jabal Amman’s avant garde population). His most recent movie is called "Closed for maintenance" and deals with the abrupt closing-down by the authorities of much-loved Books@café during last year’s Ramadan allegedly for serving alcohol. This event (as written about in an earlier post) caused a huge uproar from both sides of the argument, those who were for it, and those against. Being a man of severe secular conviction, Ibrahim began shooting the documentary just days after the shutdown, interviewing the owner of the café and random people whose opinions differed. The film is still number one of the most viewed on Ikbis, an Arabic version of YouTube.
Amidst all the thwarted arguments and bitterness, lies the core question: where is Jordan heading? Modern openness, mind-your-own-business-type of a society or towards Allah is my sole shepherd, my-mind-doesn’t-matter-type of a society. And Ibrahim, a.k.a. the Saudi superhero, knows the answer: Both. If it, in fact, is the right question to ask at all.
So we were sitting in t-shirts at midnight, after the cats had thrown up all the beer and fur balls and the imam in the mosque had gone to sleep, gently soaking up the humid brisk air of Jabal Amman. A very pleasant evening indeed.

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