Scuffles between MPs debating constitutional reforms force Jordan’s parliament to adjourn

Fistfights broke out among lawmakers in the Jordanian parliament on Tuesday, following a heated debate on several controversial constitutional reforms, including a gender equality amendment. The session had to be adjourned.

Live footage of the minutes-long brawl aired on state media showed irate MPs shoving, grabbing, and throwing punches as colleagues attempted to restrain them. One politician fell to the ground during the fisticuffs, as voices can be heard in the background screaming for it to stop.

The fight apparently erupted over an amendment to include the female noun for a citizen in a chapter of the country’s constitution titled the ‘Rights and Duties of Jordanians’, which grants equal rights to all, the Middle East Eye reported, citing Jordanian media outlets.

Several politicians were opposed to the motion, terming it “unnecessary,” according to the Al-Mamlaka channel that broadcast the session in the House of Representatives. One MP reportedly commented that the addition of the female noun would be “shameful.” The remarks irked Speaker Abdelkarim al-Daghmi, presiding over the debate, who demanded an apology.

The disagreement reportedly escalated after another politician criticized al-Daghmi for being “unable to run the show” and accused him of “not knowing anything.” To this, the speaker apparently told the MP to “shut up and leave the hall” before adjourning the session and walking out himself.

The fight broke out after his departure, when opposing lawmakers began jostling and finger-wagging. No one was injured in the punch-up and ensuing chaos, according to Reuters. Clips of the tussle have been widely shared on social media.

“There was a verbal shouting match that turned into a fist fight by several deputies. The behavior is unacceptable to our people and harms our country’s reputation,” Khalil Atiyeh, an MP who witnessed the session, told the news agency.

Other constitutional reforms scheduled to be discussed during the session included the creation of a National Security Council, and the halving of the speaker’s term in office to one year.

Lawmakers also objected to proposed changes that could increase the powers of the country’s monarch, King Abdullah II, Euronews reported, adding that a royal commission had previously proposed giving MPs the right to choose the country’s prime minister.

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