Reform Activists Arrested
By: Tamer al-Smadi Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).
On Saturday night, several Jordanian cities witnessed protests against the detention of pro-reform activists, who have been charged with slandering prominent political figures. Demonstrators chanted slogans attacking several important institutions. On the other hand, sources from both the government and the Muslim Brotherhood revealed to Al-Hayat that the Royal Palace was having several secret talks with the Brotherhood to dissuade the latter from boycotting the elections.
About This Article
Dozens of pro-reform activists were arrested in protests across Jordan while Salafists sympathetic to al-Qaeda demonstrated peacefully in Amman. Tamer al-Smadi also reports the Royal Palace, in secret talks, was urging the Muslim Brotherhood to participate in forthcoming elections.Publisher: Al-Hayat (Pan Arab)
Jordan: Protests continued for the release of detainees and secret dialogues with the Brotherhood to dissuade them from boycotting elections
Author: Tamer al-Smadi
First Published: September 10, 2012
Posted on: September 11 2012
Translated by: Stephanie Karam
Categories : Jordan
Protesters urged the government to release around 20 tribal opposition activists who descend from tribes from the southern city of Tafilah (179 km south of Amman) and live in the tribes’ district in downtown Amman. They sharply criticized [Prime Minister] Fayez al-Tarawneh’s cabinet and called upon Tarawneh and the cabinet’s members to leave office immediately. In the Tafilah neighborhood in Amman, hundreds of Jordanians organized night protests that lasted till dawn [on Sept. 9]. The protesters criticized security decisions made by the government and continuously rising prices.
In Tafileh, hundreds of citizens held overnight protests against the detention of pro-reform activists. They harshly criticized King Abdullah II’s recent appointments of high-level officials who are linked to current and former officials.
Moreover, there were other massive demonstrations in several Jordanian cities, including Irbid, Jarash, al-Karak, Madaba, southern Mazar and Ajaloun.
Jordan’s National Front for Reform — presided over by the prime minister and former intelligence chief, Ahmed Obaidat — on Saturday night called for an urgent meeting at the Professional Associations Complex. The meeting aimed to discuss the detentions of the activists and the recent developments. “We hoped the officials would come out of their coma. However, they are eschewing our reformist demands and are betting on the failure of the Arab Spring,” Obaidat stated in an address given in front of hundreds of political figures.
In addition, the Secretary General of the Islamic Action Front, Hamzeh Mansour, called upon officials to form a national rescue cabinet and release forthwith all detained activists, noting the country was “on the brink of collapse.”
An official in the Ministry of Interior announced on Saturday night [Sept. 8] the detention of several protesters on charges of “chanting immoral and unethical slogans, which are an outright breach of the law.”
“On Sunday [Sept. 9], the prosecutor general of the State Security Court charged six activists who had participated in last Friday’s protests in Tafilah. The detainees were accused of three different charges: organizing illegal protests, instigating sectarian conflicts and stirring up public opposition to the regime,” confirmed a Jordanian judicial source speaking to AFP.
The source added that the detainees were arrested for two weeks for investigation purposes. In the meantime, official Jordanian sources told Al-Hayat that “a decision has been taken at the highest levels that mandates the arrest of anyone who insults a member of the royal family. This has been enacted in an attempt to control oppositional rhetoric that is increasingly audacious.”
At the request of several activists, there were further larger protests in several Jordanian cities. The demonstrators held sit-ins in front of the houses of several former and current officials, who are charged — still without conclusive evidence — of corruption.
The calls to organize such protests, which Jordan has never witnessed before, were made by a group that goes by the name of “the Jordanian unified opposition." The group’s spokesperson, Hussam al-Abdallat, confirmed to Al-Hayat that “this initiative aims to publicly expose the misdoings of several former and current high-level officials and politicians charged with corruption.”
The initiative’s members have organized their first protest — which lasted for several hours — in front of the house of the director of the king’s office, Imad Fakhoury. The demonstrators shouted slogans considered taboo in Jordan.
In their next step, the protesters headed to west Amman to the luxurious mansion of former Prime Minister Abdelraouf al-Rawabdeh, who is commonly referred to as “the bulldozer."
Rawabdeh, who is known as a “stubborn man," used local media to warn the protesters against insulting him in front of his house. “Such protests tarnish the image of prominent figures in Jordan and breach the law, without benefiting any party,” he said.
Several hours after Rawabdeh’s statement, hundreds of the former prime minister’s supporters protested in front of Abdelraouf’s house, wearing shirts bearing a picture of a “bulldozer." Scores of protesters also waved swords and metal sticks, warning against insulting the former prime minister’s reputation. Later, there were opposing protests in front of Rawabdeh’s mansion. The demonstrators shouted slogans accusing the former PM of corruption and of having a hand in the appointment of his daughter Nadia as the Director of the Social Security Fund.
The fiery scene soon turned into a conflict between Rawbdeh’s supporters and opponents, resulting in several opponents being injured. Among the injured was Abdallat, who was admitted to the hospital following severe injuries and bruises. In an interview with Al-Hayat in Amman, several prominent politicians confirmed that such conflicts “added fuel to the fire," and warned against possible tribal and regional conflicts in the future.
Moreover, hundreds of members of Abdallat’s tribe held several meetings yesterday evening, calling for revenge and punishment for those who had assaulted the tribe’s members. On the other hand, activists on a number of social networking websites had mentioned that several young men from the Abdallat tribe opened gunfire on Rawabdeh’s mansion yesterday at dawn.
The activists of “the unified opposition” confirmed that they would hold further protests in front of officials’ houses, adding that their next protest would be in front of the house of former prime minister Samir al-Rifaai, in the rich suburb of Dabuq in west Amman.
Secret talks with the Muslim Brotherhood
Meanwhile, Al-Hayat has obtained details concerning the secret talks that are currently being held between the royal palace and the Muslim Brotherhood. The talks are being mediated by the Brotherhood’s former leader, Bassam al-Amoush, and include several political figures, the most prominent being former prime minister Faysal al-Fayez. This dialogue is being held in an attempt to dissuade the Muslim Brotherhood from boycotting the elections.
According to well-informed sources, these secret talks — which have been going on for weeks — have resulted in several joint conclusions that will be important going forward.
Moreover, the leaks confirmed that the Brotherhood had made a promise not to go forward with boycotting the elections, on the condition that the electoral law is amended for the third time. They are demanding that each voter be allowed to vote for two candidates, provided that the national list system is maintained. As part of this offer, which is still awaiting a reply from the government, the Muslim Brotherhood agreed to postpone voicing their other demands concerning additional amendments to the constitution until after the parliamentary elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mourad al-Adayleh, confirmed to Al-Hayat that “secret talks are being held at the request of the royal authority."
He added: “So far there have not been any new developments. However, we are ready to decide against boycotting the parliamentary elections, on the condition that effective steps are taken to make the necessary reforms, mainly concerning the amendment of the electoral law.
Supporters of al-Qaeda protest in downtown Amman for the release of their detained members
The squares surrounding Jordanian government buildings in downtown Amman turned into protest hot spots. Hundreds of Salafists, who support al-Qaeda, organized a protest to demand the release of their group members who are detained in Jordanian prisons. In an unprecedented scene, the so-called “Jihadist-Salafist Movement” protested under beefed-up security conditions. They called for the implementation of Islamic law in the country and for “holy jihad in the Levant."
Protesters marched across the streets parallel to the government’s buildings, shouting slogans such as: “The people want to implement the Koran” and “The people want the release of detainees” — referring to Salafist group members who are detained in the Jordanian prisons, which number more than 50 according to government figures.
The peaceful protest marches included several young bearded men wearing traditional Afghan clothes — long shirts and short pants — and black turbans in honor of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in 2006 in Iraq.
Prominent figures of the jihadist movement participated in the march, including the movement’s leader in north Jordan, Abed Shahadeh (“Abu Mohamed al-Tahawi”), Mohamed al-Shalaby (“Abu Sayyaf”) and Osama Abu Kabeer, who is a former Jordanian prisoner in Guantanamo and a fighter in Iraq.
“We came here to call upon officials to release our family members who are detained in Jordanian prisons … for they are innocent! The government should release them,” Abu Sayyaf confirmed to Al-Hayat. “We did not organize any bomb attacks or other crimes in Amman. … Our children called for jihad in countries under foreign occupation and some of them tried to infiltrate into Syria. However, they were detained by the Jordanian authorities.”
Abu Mohamed al-Tahawy said a word at the protest, confirming that “the jihadists want to implement Islamic law in Jordan and provide support to Sunnis and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria.” He added: “We have members who are fighting in Syrian and the government should release the rest of the detainees who tried to sneak to Syria.”
He noted that the group “will announce ongoing protests in all streets and squares if the Jordanian authorities fail to release the detainees.”
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