x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 September 2017

Jordan's pistol politics

A Jordanian MP pulls a handgun during a TV talk show, and the debate about Syria's crisis quickly exits the realm of pure politics.

Politics is not a profession for the faint of heart. Verbal jousts are common and even punches have been thrown in parliamentary chambers in Ukraine, Nigeria and Italy in recent times. On Friday, however, a Jordanian MP went one further by drawing a gun on an opponent during a televised talk show.

Things became heated between Mohammed Shawabka, a sitting MP, and Mansur Murad, a former MP and activist, while they were debating the Syrian situation on the satellite channel Jo Sat.

Mr Shawabka accused Mr Murad of being a spy in the pay of the Syrian regime; then Mr Murad claimed Mr Shawabka was a Mossad agent and a thief. Mr Shawabka first threw his shoe at Mr Murad, who dodged with aplomb, and then pulled a gun. Furniture toppled as the show's host desperately tried to separate the two. And then the credits rolled.

Naturally, video of the brawl has gone viral, causing incredulity in many circles. Perhaps it would even be funny if the events in Syria, and the urgent need to find a solution there, weren't so serious.

This is just a sideshow involving two minor players, but it says a lot about the debate. We're all for rough-and-tumble politics, but when tempers flare to this point on live television, "politics" is no longer the right word.