Queen Rania of Jordan seems to have it all. She is young, glamorous and beautiful. She is “a mum and wife with a really cool day job”. For years she has engaged in social projects in children education, health improvement and cross-cultural dialogue, becoming thus of one of the most powerful and internationally recognized women from the Arab world. And she still finds time to post messages and pictures on facebook, youtube, twitter and instagram.
For a long time her activism was limited to social issues, traditionally considered as “appropriate” to a Head of State’s spouse. However for several months queen Rania has been progressively becoming a political stakeholder by embodying Jordanian engagement in the fight against Daesh’s Islamists.
Since 2013, the self-proclaimed caliphate of Iraq and Al-Sham and a large international coalition have waged to each other a war that has trespassed classical frames of a military battles and has become an ideological fight. Both sides have created sophisticated communication strategies clearly showing that the real battle is the one of hearts.
In Jordan, an official member of the anti-ISIS coalition, Queen Rania has been in charge to demonstrate to the World on which side the country is. Although she has spoke against islamic terrorism before, her first strong public act was an article published in The Huffington Post after a death of nearly 150 children, killed in a gun weapon massacre organized by Talibans in Pakistan in December 2014. In the article entitled “Extremists’ innocent victims: Islam and children”, she defended Islam as a religion of love misused by “evil, depraved monsters of men” and argued that the first victims of extremists are Muslims.
The massacre in the Charlie’s Hebdo’s office in Paris was another occasion to reaffirm her anti-extremist engagement. After the death of 12 French journalists, she stated on social media that she felt “offended” that the killers had used Islam to defend their attacks. On the 11th January she took part with her husband and other international politicians in a protestation march in Paris, gathering 2 million people. Lately, in an interview she gave to the French weekly L’Express she explained that even if she felt offended by the caricatures of Mohamet published by the weekly, the only acceptable answer to those is a peaceful protest and not a deadly violence.
It was however the capture and killing of a Jordan pilot that marked a turning point in Jordanian public opinion attitude toward the islamists and led to a strong promotion of the queen’s engagement. In December 2014, a Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh was captured by ISIS. The terrorist organization launched a campaign on twitter asking about ideas what to kill the “Jordanian pilot pig”. Immediately after that, a social media campaign of solidarity with the captured pilot went viral on Arab media. Queen Rania was one of the first participants of the # WeAreAllMuath movement, regularly posting pictures and messages about the pilot. When in the beginning of February 2015 ISIS published a video of a burning alive of Muath, Jordan was in shock. Thousands of people went on the streets to express their anger. The population which until that moment was divided in its attitude toward ISIS started to call for the death of the extremists and revenge for their pilot’s brutal killing. During all those manifestation, queen Rania walked in the first line holding the picture of the dead pilot and was photographed while consoling the young widow. Her attitude of Nation’s supporter was in perfect cooperation with the tough response of King Abdullah who decided to show the strength of Jordan and lead personally a huge aerial attack on ISIS territories.
Why queen’s engagement against the Islamic terrorism benefits her largely?
- First of all, she is a recognized public personality not only in Jordan or Middle East, but worldwide, engaged since years in humanitarian issues. Not only her engagement toward victims of islamists is legitimate, but also reinforce her public authority.
- Secondly, because of social codes that place women in the emotional sphere whereas men are supposed to occupied logical zone, the queen can more easily use emotional discourses. She can thus create engaging stories and a compassion narrative.
- Thirdly, her engagement has a strong diplomatic value. Queen Rania is the best ambassador of Jordan as a country embedding to “western” values, based on freedom and democracy. She is also an ambassador of the new Islam, modern, peaceful and respecting. The queen spearheads the idea of based on education and gender equality Islam, which is a strong alternative to the vision of the religion proposed by the islamists.
- Fourthly, queen Rania skillfully engaged herself in a political matter without provoking any negative reaction of the public opinion rarely accepting political engagement of politicians’ spouses. She has thus reached to reinforce her public image of a powerful female politician and a genuine partner to her husband.