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Rock and a hard place

AMMAN, Jordan — Muhannad Bursheh hardly seems like the kind of guy who would be viewed as a troublemaker. He’s an audio engineering student enthusiastic about ancient Middle Eastern mythology and he lives with his family in Abdoun, one of Amman’s upscale neighborhoods. But Bursheh is also the member of three heavy metal groups.

The Arab media's problems

DEAD SEA, Jordan — Arab media bosses face a host of problems. Of course, that’s also true of Western media executives. But most of the problems the Arab news media face stem from the retarded development of their social institutions and the authoritarian nature of their governments.

Jordanian tourism seeks papal blessing

AMMAN, Jordan — Among the hundreds of reporters coming to Jordan to cover Pope Benedict XVI’s three-day visit that started Friday are 25 South American journalists. The Jordanian government spent tens of thousands of dollars flying in the reporters, most of them from Brazil, for a five-star tour of the country and an all-access pass to cover the papal visit. Their first question upon arriving: Why us?

Of borders and other divisions

Thirty years ago I was crossing the Jordon River from Israel to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon to interview King Hussein, the father of the present monarch. I passed over the Allenby Bridge from Israeli control, displaying blue and white Israeli flags, to the Jordanian side, where most pretended that Israel didn’t exist.

The exorcism

What to do if you're possessed

Have your keys gone missing a few too many times, making you wonder if it's more than just forgetfulness? Are your electronics on the fritz? Do you often feel a cold draft when all the doors and windows are closed? You might have a jinn in your house. If you’re a believer in the supernatural, here’s some advice from jinn exorcist Mohammed al-Yafawi.

Longing for an old, trusted enemy

For years I listened to Arabs from across the Middle East complain about how much they hated President George W. Bush. So after the election of President Barack Obama, I expected something of a sigh of relief from the region. But days after he took office I began encountering the occasional Arab who admitted that he missed Bush. “?!?!” I initially thought. It flew in the face of almost every casual conversation about politics I’d ever had in the Middle East.

How to shoo off a Jordanian jinn

ZARQA, Jordan — It’s midnight in the slums just outside of Amman, and Mohammed al-Yafawi has a local man pinned to the ground. His sidekick, a local mosque leader named Imam Imad Adawi, shouts Quranic verse into the trapped man’s ear. “He is stronger than four or five persons right now,” puffs Yafawi, who must use all his weight to keep the man down.

Fit for a king?

When you talk to a lot of people who’ve met King Abdullah II, they often emphasize how he tends to come off as extremely laid back. So as I was reporting today’s story about the king’s meeting with President Barack Obama, I was pleased to see that he’s apparently stayed true to form during his U.S. visit.

Obama's first meeting with an Arab leader

AMMAN — King Abdullah II Ibn al-Hussein's meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the Arab-Israeli peace process marks the first time an Arab leader has had an audience with the new U.S. president. The meeting comes at a time when King Abdullah of Jordan and other Arab leaders are seeking to influence the Obama administration as it is still formulating its policies on the Middle East, and Abdullah came to Washington to represent a united Arab position to the new U.S. administration.
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