Richard Spencer; 7/12/09
On one side is the fashionably dressed Queen Rania of Jordan, a symbol of progressive values for Arab women. On the other are her country’s conservative social and religious leaders. At stake is a political test case for reform in the Middle East, one that pits demands for greater democracy against the need to end so-called honour killings of women. Queen Rania, who regularly appears without a head scarf, let alone a hijab, has given her quiet support to women’s rights groups that want to change laws amounting to legal impunity for men involved in honour killings. But standing against her is another symbol of the country’s attempts to show a progressive face. Jordan’s MPs, who have been given more power to hold the Government and royal family to account than in other Arab countries, have shown little enthusiasm for the moves.