In Jordan, feel-good gesture of changing uniform backfires

AP News
Posted: Mar 11, 2015 1:31 PM

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — It had been intended as a feel-good gesture for Jordanians still hurting over by the brutal killing of one of their fighter pilots by Islamic State extremists: The city of Amman announced it would change the uniform colors of its street cleaners from orange to turquoise because the old outfits were too similar to those worn by captives executed by the extremists.

But now, the plan has gone awry, underscoring divisions instead of helping to soothe the national psyche.

Everything still seemed on track when the city rolled out the new uniform color over the weekend. But by Tuesday night, city officials abruptly announced the new uniform color would be green, not turquoise.

Municipal spokesman Mazen Farjeen said the switch from turquoise to green was made in response to objections from Faisaly, a top Jordanian football club whose players wear turquoise jerseys in home games.

The club said in a statement that if the cleaners and the football players wear the same colors, this could be "a source of making fun of Faisaly."

Faisaly's response provided an opening for its biggest rival, al-Wehdat, whose home jerseys are green, the same as the new uniforms of the cleaners.

"I salute our players and our workers," a top official in Al-Wehdat, Tareq Khoury, wrote on his Twitter account, appearing to embrace the latest color choice.

The Electoral College Debate
Walter E. Williams

Faisaly is largely supported by Jordanians from tribal backgrounds, while al-Wehdat is mostly backed by Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Jordan.

Faisaly's response didn't sit well with some.

"Why is Faisaly doing this?" asked Mohammed Lailaly, a 28-year-old cleaner of Palestinian origin. "Al-Wehdat is proud of us and we are proud of al-Wehdat."

Amjad al-Majali, the sports editor of the al-Rai newspaper, noted that Faisaly has a cultural role to play as well as an athletic one. "How could it reject the color turquoise" for the cleaners, he said.