Last year, when I was living in Jordan, I went to a typically rowdy Halloween house party. Dressed as a "Real Housewife of Amman," I tucked a bottle of wine in my apron and embraced the night along with expats and Jordanians alike. In my experience, Halloween celebrations in Amman mostly exist in very particular bubbles for the wealthy and the foreigners. But this year looks like it will be different. On Wednesday, Jordan's Ministry of Interior abruptly issued an edict banning all public celebrations of the holiday. The U.S. Embassy in Jordan warned:
U.S. citizens should expect police reaction, including arrests, at any public Halloween-themed event. The U.S. Embassy advises that U.S. citizens traveling from their home to a Halloween party, or vice versa, cover up their costumes while in public or in a car.
This isn’t the first time Halloween has been contentious in Jordan. In 2012, arsonists set fire to the entrance of a West Amman cafe that had hosted a Halloween party the night before; the local Muslim Brotherhood chapter subsequently issued a statement calling the Halloween event a gathering of “Satan worshippers.” This year, the government itself started condemning Halloween celebrations before they began. A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Ziad Zou’bi, said such parties were not in keeping with traditional Jordanian values.
Almost immediately after the ban was announced, Jordanians took to the Internet with blog posts and cartoons criticizing the government's new approach to the holiday. “We obviously have a state that is keen on appeasing conservative forces whenever it’s up against the wall,” wrote Naseem Tarawnah, co-founder of the online Jordanian news site 7iber, on his blog. “Jordanian society, as a whole, has grown more conservative and/or religious in recent years.” State opposition to "secular/liberal/western activities," he wrote, would "always find ways" of making itself felt, and Halloween was no exception.