I can only read about something for so long before it becomes necessary to go to the original and see it for myself. Were the Mohammed comics blasphemous? What about Mark Twain? Ahhh…banned books.
The time has come to do that with wikileaks. I’ve finally stumbled across the links for accessing them directly, and what is in the first banned cable I read, but the story of a bitter soccer rivalry in Amman penned by an attentive bureaucrat. The Jordan Times was never this entertaining.
First, the links. The Guardian has a great interactive map of the world with the location of cables indicated by clickable dots. This is the one for me, although some may prefer NYT. The sketchflow blog has more links, focusing on visualizations and graphics, always an interesting topic. Now back to the soccer.
[Obligatory Disclosure: I have a friend whose son plays for Wihdat.]
A 28 July 2009 cable details the cross-city rivalry between the Palestinian Wihdat team from the Wihdat refugee camp on the east side of Amman and the Faisali club which represents the East Bankers. I’m not going to paste secret information here, those who want to see it can follow the link, but suffice it to say a game was halted, with fines and public chastisement all around.
Except for the nationalities, the story could be about London soccer teams. I remember when I went with a Swedish journalist back in 1988 to see Arsenal play another London team. We saw the game with Arsenal fans and had to actually get off at a different subway stop from the other team’s fans. Once we exited the underground, a line of police on both sides of the road made sure we entered our part of the stadium without detours. Oddly enough, just last week, Canahan sent me a link to a story about a riot in Jordan between the same two teams. What I say is this: Thank Allah for Football. Now if we could only get Lebanon, Palestine, and The Other Side to face off against each other in soccer and limit their ferocities to the playing field.
One last detail. The soccer rivalry cable was classified by a charge d’affaires who added in the heading “for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)”. Of course the policy numbers might just refer to reasons for secrecy, but as someone who might be accused of occasional hypergraphia, it intrigues me to think that a bureaucrat might have to have a reason before writing something, and that the reasons might be rigid enough to require the setting down of policy numbers before setting out to write.