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.


jaraad said...

Very disturbing news. Hopefully, it is a temporary thing.

kinzi said...

Very real. The gangs act as pimps for boys and older orphaned girls as prostitutes also. There is no way to get the kids out, as you are right, they 'occupy' the area.

Slash said...

"Gangs of New York" meets "City of God"? Allah yestor :S

Rana Al Sha'bani said...

Authorities should solve this.

NasEr said...

Slash i hope it never get to that !!
Hareega as in the tribunal-power problem , I believe the only answer to this problem is law and the implimination of it .

Dagsljus said...

How very Cidade de Deus! Scary. Allah yustor..

Raghda said...

I spent 4 years working day in day out with the community in Jabal Natheef and I never came across these gangs...plenty of troubled young men, but no gangs. I think we need to be careful not to add to the stigma of Jabal Natheef, which is a community I for one loved working and spending time in.

I advise everyone to spend time there and other communities in Amman and volunteer with the kids. It's great fun and in my experience you're more likely to be accosted by kids welcoming you than by gang members brandishing weapons.

I am not saying the gangs don't exist, what I am saying is that we need to do what we can to stop the spread of such phenomena rather than becoming more afraid and insular.

The future of our city is on our hands folks, so let's get moving!

Hareega said...

Raghda, sometimes it's good to get people scared so they can try to solve a problem.

When did you work there?

Raghda said...


The problem with fear is it usually makes people close in on themselves, rather than open up to others, which is what we need to do if we're going to resolve the issues facing our city. It's no use each of us living on our own little bubble, judging the other and hoping for the best!