On far away violations

Apparently, there could be something like 42,000 traffic violations a year in the city of Amman, Jordan:

Mar. 16–AMMAN — Around 3,556 environmental and traffic violations in the capital have been captured on film since the beginning of this month, a majority of them in the Zahran district. According to the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) press centre, 1,930 were environmental and 1,626 traffic violations.

(Arab News; Byline: Khalid Neimat and Hana Namrouqa)

Being a safety-oriented citizen – hey, I even served 4 years on the workplace safety organisation of the company I work for – this worries me. And I reckon that one of the more efficient ways of getting the “drive safely and orderly!” message through is to take the offenders to court.

So I honestly think that we should do that. And as I am based in Denmark, I would propose that we take some 42,000 drivers from Jordan to court here in Copenhagen. Looking at Danish traffic fine levels and anticipating that most of the offenses are not that large, I assume that we can select the next-to-lowest fine level for speeding as a reasonable average. Then, the Danish state can count on 42 mio. Danish kroner (or some 5.6 mio. EUR) in fines. A year. Should pay for some kindergardens…

What? Do I hear you say that this is ridiculous? Oh, so Jordanians naturally only have to follow Jordanian rules and only have to answer to a Jordanian court?

Well. I will agree that this example  – admittedly hypothetical and very constructed – is ridiculous. But only if the same principle is expected to work both ways: Jordanians answer to Jordanian laws and courts only; Danes likewise answer to Danish laws and courts. Only.

With this in place, I firmly believe that the court in Amman can start packing documents back in boxes and carry them to the dump. The trial, in absentia, of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and 19 Danish journalists (of which, even, one sadly has died in the meantime – maybe that is why he didn’t read Jordanian newspapers to realise that he was summoned to court, which seems to be all that is needed down there) has no place on this Earth.

Whatever these 20 people did or did not do, they have one legislation that they have to make sure they stay within – and that is the Danish one. If anyone wants to file a case against them for violating Danish laws, by all means. But the place to do that is in a Danish court.

And oh, by the way – any requirements for Danes to adhere to other countries’ religions, on top of obeying other countries’ laws, is not making this any less ridiculous.

In Denmark, you can live by whatever religion and faith you want to. You’re welcome to be a Buddhist, a Jew, a Muslim, a firm believer in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whatever. Denmark is a largely secular society, though we do have a Protestant state church. And even if we do, we do not impose that state Protestantism on any citizens of other countries anywhere.

Can the people of “God’s Prophet Unites us Campaign” in Jordan claim that the same freedom of religion is offered to anyone in Jordan? Can they explain why they try to impose the rules of Islam on protestants in Denmark? Can they even begin to explain why Danish journalists should look to the rules of Islam and/or the laws of Jordan before they write their articles? Do they even begin to understand the concept of freedom of the press?

I think not. And that’s why the traffic example maybe isn’t so ridiculous after all. Until the Jordanians make it so by stating their agreement that of course any citizen in this world is only subject to the laws of his or her own country. And that any citizen’s upholding of the rules of his or her chosen religion is a matter between that person and the deity in question.

Photo courtesy of Citizensheep on Flickr.
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