Monday, April 17, 2006

Those with a passion for photography, beware... You may be suspected of terrorism

On Saturday, brother and I decided to take a little trip to Aqaba. He works long hours so lately we haven't had much time to hang out. The drive was cool most of the way. We talked about everything under the sun, got a flat tire...but it was all cool. Eventually, we did get to Aqaba, hung out, had something to eat... The weather was perfect and I decided to go to the beach and snap some pics of the sea and the beautiful view. Lots of people were there, some were also taking pics, a couple of guys were even swimming... I put up my tripod, set everything up, started snapping pics... I got some really good shots too. Suddenly, these two "officers of the law" come up to me and tell me that I'm not allowed to take pictures because it's a military area. Let me remind you all, that there were other people taking pictures and even swimming in this "military area", yet they chose to single me out for some reason. They claimed that I could be using the pictures to help some terrorist groups. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. The more I tried to explain to these guys that I was just snapping pics of the nice view, that it's a hobby, the less they seemed to understand what I was talking about. I wondered if they had dug these two guys out of a graveyard and just stuck uniforms on them or something.
They took me in to the station, where I was forced to speak to someone "higher up". The guy kept asking me who I work for. I explained to him from beginning to end, that my brother and I decided to drive to Aqaba for a couple of days for a change of scenery, that photography was just a hobby of mine. This man did not seem to understand the meaning of the word "hobby". He claimed that I was going to use these pictures to help someone and once again asked me who I work for. They wanted to confiscate my cam and tripod. I spent over an hour in there trying to reason with them and make these retards understand what a hobby is. In the end, they made me delete all the pics ( I did however, manage to keep a couple of them, and took a couple more on the way back...).
My bro and I had originally planned to go back to Amman on Sunday morning, but I wanted to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. I wondered if this would have happened to be, had I been staying at some 5-star hotel. I wondered if this was going to happen to me again the next time I see something nice and decide to snap it. I even felt like chucking out my camera right then and there. If anyone else out there has had a similar experience, I'd like to hear about it. ...

I've heard a similar story on the Israeli side, but don't quite remember the details. I think it had something to do with the 1981 bombing of a munitions or some other kind of factory in Syria. The story goes something like two US tourists took pics of Syria on border with Lebanon, and closer examination of their photo revealed something suspicious to the Israelis. I don't even know how the Israelis even got their hands on the camera. This could just be myth, I'll have to ask someone who may be more in the know.

Ok, the other thing is it may be the tripod that got you in trouble. Perhaps it makes you look more serious, professional and therefore suspicious.
:( that is really sad , and stupid too , though they r advertising Aqaba as the best toring place , you r not permited to take pics , HUH , this terrorist thing is making me mad .... wallah i am sorry for u
I am so shocked and angered by that story, my God, I can't help beliving, more and more, that we live in a police state for God's sake. No freedom of expression whatsoever, and that even extends to taking PERSONAL PHOTOS. I'm so sorry you had to experience that, but the good news it you have some BEAUTIFUL photos, really!
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