Jordan’s new smart IDs will no longer indicate the cardholder’s religion.

King-(7) - Jordan Removes Religion From New ID Cards
His Majesty King Abdullah visits the Civil Status and Passports Department in Amman on Wednesday. During the visit, which coincided with launching the smart ID project, His Majesty obtained his own smart ID card (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

Smart IDs that don’t indicate the holder’s religion are now replacing traditional IDs in Jordan as part of the government’s digitisation program, reports Al Bawaba. Jordanian smart IDs will include data chips containing background information about holder for security purposes.

The move drew criticism from the country’s conservatives who argue that ditching religion from national IDs violates article one of the Jordanian constitution, which declares Islam the state religion – most notably Former MP Zakaria El Sheikh who called the decision an attempt to “strip the country of its Muslim identity.”

]In response, lawyer Taghrid Doghmy fired back saying the decision was in compliance with the constitution, which stipulates that all citizens are equal under the law, and argues that not specifying a person’s religious views on national ID cards could eliminate religious discrimination.

To address the controversy, Head of Jordan’s Passport Authority Marwan Qutaishat explained that “religion cannot be expressed with a written word or a beard,” adding that religion is among the data stored in the chip integrated in smart IDs, but “isn’t shown on it.”

To show his support for the move and encourage fellow Jordanians to register for smart IDs, King Abdullah the second visited the country’s passport authorities to issue his own.

By Hakim Charles

Hakim Charles studied political science of the Middle East, European Studies, journalism and linguistics. He has been lecturing at different German universities since 2011 on issues related to ideology and the interplay of power thereof in socio-political life, and religion and its relationship to contemporary politics in the regions of West Asia and North Africa, especially Egypt and Syria. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Mashreq Politics & Culture Journal (MPC Journal) since 2014 and has published over 100 articles in different languages, academic and otherwise, in a wide spectrum of on-line and printed newspapers, journals and think tanks. His current research focuses on Islam-inspired political ideologies such as Islamist extremism and Salafism, radicalisation, de-radicalisation processes in Germany as well as peace and conflict in the Middle East.

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