Jordanian lawmakers trade tirades, leaving female members fuming

Jordan's Parliament is no stranger to tumult, having hosted scenes of enraged members chucking ashtrays at each other and even pulling out guns during heated arguments.

But this week's performance was a stunner even by the legislature's raucous standards.


On Tuesday, a three-way shouting match in Amman culminated in a walkout of all female representatives after an exasperated male colleague told them to "go put on makeup for [their] husbands," according to a video of the session released by local broadcaster Roya News.

The sexist tirade emerged from a heated discussion about the Muslim Brotherhood, the pan-Arab political movement. One lawmaker, Abdul Majid Aqtash, who is pro-Brotherhood, criticized the government's recent arrest of a prominent member of the group, the third arrested in recent months.

Broadening his target base, the lawmaker then launched a broadside against leftists and nationalists, whom he accused of conspiring against Jordan in the 1970s.

That was too much for parliament's nationalist bloc, whose shrill cries were a harbinger of the chaos to follow.

"Be silent, Aqtash! The nationalists are more honorable than you!" shouted  lawmaker Abdul Karim Dughmi, his face grimacing with rage as he wildly gestured. He was soon joined by Hind Fayez, a female legislator known for her strong opinions and spirited debating technique.

Fayez unleashed a verbal assault on Aqtash, refusing to back off even as fellow lawmakers, their tones alternating between pleading and threatening, urged her to take a seat.

Finally, lawmaker Yahya Saoud, seated beside Fayez, raised his hands in pseudo-prayer and asked God to "take revenge against he who brought the [female] quota upon the parliament," a reference to a policy that reserves 15 of the 150 seats for women.

A stunned speaker of the house asked Saoud to apologize. Saoud refused, repeating his invocation to the Almighty, while advising female lawmakers to go home, "put on makeup" and leave politics to the boys.

Fayez promptly redirected her ire at Saoud, almost coming to blows with him,  before the speaker ended the session. That's where things stand. Female parliamentarians have refused to return until Saoud issues an apology.

Bulos is a special correspondent.