AMMAN, Jordan – Jordanian Islamists remain defiant at suggestions that their position has weakened in the aftermath of the ousting in Egypt of President Mohamed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and the arrests by the military of top Brotherhood officials.
Outwardly, the Jordanian section of the Muslim Brotherhood is exuding confidence, its leaders brushing aside what happened to their Egyptian allies as irrelevant.
"Our experience is different from that of Egypt's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. We did not rule and we existed in the political sphere long before Morsi was president," Hammam Said, leader of the Jordanian MB said. He insisted that his group would not be shaken by the Egypt's leadership earthquake.
In an interview with the Jordanian daily newspaper Al-Ghad, he expressed confidence that Morsi would be returned to power.
Since the Egyptian army's announcement of Morsi's removal from office, large groups of Jordanian Islamist activists have been gathering daily in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Amman, demanding Morsi's reinstatement as leader of the largest and most influential Arab country.
The support here for the local Muslim Brotherhood’s Egyptian allies is seen not only as another indication of the strong ties between Jordanian and Egyptian members, but also as a demonstration of the Brotherhood's power to Jordanian officials, who cheered and applauded Morsi's removal from office.
The Brotherhood’s deputy head in Jordan, Zaki Bani Rsheid, spoke to hundreds of protesters last month, alleging an international conspiracy against Islamist groups.
"Today, we see evidence of this. The army did not only overthrow Morsi, but also destroyed all the achievements of the revolution of January 25," he said referring to the demonstrations that removed Hosni Mubarak from power, assuring the crowds that the Islamists will ultimately prevail.
Muslim Brotherhood activists said their group remains stronger than ever despite the anti-Morsi demonstrations.
"The popularity of Islamist groups skyrocketed. People realized that international powers are conspiring against Islamic movements. It started with Hamas, after its victory in the 2006 election and it continues now in Egypt,"
Abdel Fatah Absi, a youth leader at the Islamic Action Front (IAF), a political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood told The Media Line.
Absi also believes that there were different circumstances that affected the two groups. "The Islamic Movement in Jordan has been deeply rooted in the streets and political life," he said.
Jordanian authorities, however, are happy about the toppling of Morsi and see the changes as a blow to the Islamists, the strongest opposition group in the kingdom.
King Abdullah II this year clarified his stance regarding the Muslim Brotherhood, calling them “wolves in sheeps' clothing" in an interview with the American magazine The Atlantic.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh was among the first to congratulate the rebels who ousted Morsi and said his country "respects the decision of the Egyptian people."
The foreign minister’s position matched those of Gulf monarchies including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. The oil-rich states sent billions of dollars to Egypt as a token of support following the army’s move against Morsi.
A senior official in the Jordanian Prime Minister's office said his government has been acting with caution concerning the events in Egypt.
"The government prefers to act in a responsible manner concerning the election of Morsi and what happened after he was toppled," the source told The Media Line.
"We have our own internal problems and do not need complications," he added.
While Jordan’s government officials have been prudent in their reaction to the Morsi ouster, its state-run media have been more vocal in their support of Morsi's overthrow.
The government-owned daily Al-Rai, with the largest circulation in Jordan, has been running daily editorials and opinion pieces vilifying the Islamist movement and its political moves, apparently seeking to capitalize on the Muslim Brotherhood’s failure in Egypt in order to denigrate the local chapter.
The campaign is being supported by East Bank right-wing groups and generals from army intelligence who oppose the empowerment of Islamists and Palestinians in Jordan's political affairs.
The Islamist movement in Jordan is made up largely of Palestinians, who constitute more than 65 percent of the population.
Former government spokesman Sameeh Mayta, who was a Muslim Brotherhood member, said the Islamists’ failure in Egypt will have consequences for their Jordanian colleagues. "They will have to lower the level of their demands concerning reforms and amending laws," he told The Media Line.
Political analyst Abdellah Samaeen said he was unimpressed with Islamist groups in general. He said that their collective experiences in ruling throughout the region had only resulted in failure.
"The political involvement of Islamist groups failed in the Sudan, Gaza, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia – and it will fail in Jordan,” he predicted to The Media Line. "Any group that believes wearing the niqab, an Islamic face-covering for women, is more important than the economy, will fail."
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