Monday, September 14, 2009
Gangs of Amman
Congratulations. We have our own gangs now. They're locally made and they serve local customers, now at Jabal Al-Natheef. Al-Jazeera is reporting (check here, in Arabic) on them.
You may think you know what a gang is, but think again. It's not just a bunch of outlaws who steal and maybe kill.
A gang OCCUPIES a neighborhood. It claims it as its own territory. Every store in that neighborhood has to pay a certain amount of money every month to the gang otherwise the store will be destroyed or worse, the owner can get seriously hurt. Nobody messes up with that gang. As the gang gets stronger, it will prohibit whoever they want from opening business there. Then it will disallow other people from walking there at night if they didn't want them to. Remember, it's their own territory.
Other outlaws living nearby will get jealous, and they will form their own gang, and start to take money from local stores. Those gangs get bigger. And because they want more territory, they will start looking at other neighborhoods aiming for expanding that territory. They may clash with other gangs and it can get bloody.
What does a gang need to form? Weapons, which are readily available in Jordan. They also need low-life people, and there's plenty of them. Poverty and unemployment definitely nourishes such environment.
Who can stop gangs? Policemen. But they're not doing anything here, for different possible reasons. First, the problem is widespread (yet), and as long as people are not taking the streets they won't do anything about it. Secondly, it's limited to pour areas, and most people who really have the authority to fight those gangs do not live there or even know anyone who lives there. Another possibility, is that those gangs are heavily-armed, dangerous ones, and the police is hoping for them to dissolve one way or another by... I don't know..... better education and opening a new mosque in the neighborhood?
Yes, Amman is becoming a big city, a scary one too.