Sunday, September 28, 2008

Religion gets stupid again


Reading at the mosque, Amman, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Restaurants in Amman are accusing the authorities of the heavy-handed closure of legal businesses to appease religious conservatives during Ramadan.

Jordan introduced a new restaurant grading system three years ago, to help promote tourism. It allowed establishments with a three-star tourist rating to open for business as usual - including serving alcohol - during Ramadan.

However, the change appears to have upset the more traditional elements of Amman society, who have lobbied successfully for certain restaurants to be shut.

One such place is Books@cafe, a restaurant, bookshop and internet cafe in Amman's old quarter. Co-owner, Madian al-Jazerah, told the BBC News website what happened.

"Eight people turned up from different ministries. They walked into the kitchen and one accused us of allowing cockroaches, insects and mice to run around. We were baffled, asking them to show us what they were talking about. Of course there was nothing, but with every accusation, he ordered one of his committee members to write it down."

We went to Books@Cafe a few times and had some wonderful evenings, notably one with a couple of jugs of beer, which we drank with two locals. The cafe is up on the hill, in a posh neighbourgood, surrounded by large houses and is absolutely not a place which would have many passers-by. Anyway, the terrace is upstairs and hidden away from the street, but with lovely views acros the hills of Amman. Seems like people have been trouble-making...

We recommended this place to our friends Hans and Otty who are now on a month's trip to Jordan and Syria. We hope they are having a great time and enjoying a nice cold Heineken somewhere...

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