Queen Rania: Comforter & Activist
In one of the most poignant images of Jordan’s Queen Rania that I’ve seen, Jordan’s First Lady comforts the devastated Anwar Tarawneh, widow of Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the captive pilot burned alive by ISIS. The couple were married for only five months, when her husband ejected from his fighter jet in a raid on ISIS.
Reports are that Tarawneh learned of her husband’s death in a Facebook post saying ‘Rest in peace, Muath (Moaz)’, a story she relayed to Queen Rania at her home near the southern town of Karak.
Later, Queen Rania joined marchers in the streets of Amman, gathered to honor Kasasbeh and condemn his ISIS killers. The marchers carried images of the martyred pilot and also of King Abdullah II.
Queen Rania is a founding muse of Anne of Carversville. CNN profiles King Abdullah, 53, and Queen Rania. 44, and the contradictions in their leadership of a country where honor killings and other human rights remain a major problem, while they seek to modernize their impoverished nation. Jordan is suffering a relentless onslaught of refugees from both Palestine and now Syria.
Rania has been consistent in speaking out against honor killings, but the Jordanian Parliament has a record of opposing anyy legislation that would treat honor killings as homicides. Jordan’s rank in the annual World Economic Forum’s annual Gender Gap Report has declined from 94 in 2010 (out of 134 countries) to 104 in 2014 (out of 136 countries). We can’t attribute the decline solely to attitudes about women, given the refugee crisis that Jordan endures.
At the same time, losing ground on the empowerment of women is not the Jordan envisioned by Queen Rania. In 2008 the daughter of Palestinian parents, who grew up in Kuwait and holds a business degree from the American University in Cairo told CNN:
“I personally think that Islam, in and of itself, does not subjugate women and does not hold them back,” she told CNN in 2008. “But certain people choose to interpret Islam in a way that does hold women back. Holy scripture does not hold women back. It’s the people that decide to interpret it in such a way for their own, sometimes political, agendas.”
Asked if she is criticized for not wearing a traditional veil, Rania said, “Absolutely … very often. But likewise, there are many women like me who do not wear the veil. So, as long as it’s a choice. I have nothing against the veil. And I think that wrongly, many in the West look at the veil as a symbol of oppression.”
On a related note, AOC has consistently covered the brave Kurdish women fighting ISIS in Kobani (Kobane). We are saddened to report that Hebun Sinya, a prominent leader in the YPJ — the women-only offshoot of the Kurdish YPG group and about one-third of the forces fighting in Kobane — was killed in the final fight to push ISIS out of Kobani (Kobane).