Jordanian protesters, police water canon 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Majed Jaber)
A protester was killed and dozens wounded in Jordan on Friday as security forces
broke up clashes between supporters of King Abdullah and demonstrators calling
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The government warned it would not tolerate “chaos” as unrest
began to spread into the Hashemite kingdom, long one of the Arab world’s most
Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit blamed opposition
Islamists for the clash in the monarchy, which has seen weeks of protests
calling for curbs on the king’s powers. “What happened today is definitely the
start of chaos and it is unacceptable and I warn of the consequences,” Bakhit
told Jordanian television.
Addressing Islamists whom he said were taking
orders from Egypt and Jordan, he said: “Enough playing with fire. I ask you,
where are you taking Jordan?” Jordan’s Islamist opposition, leftists and trade
unions demanded Bakhit’s ouster Saturday, AFP reported, placing the number of
injured in Friday’s protests at 130. DPA reported that 58 of those wounded were
“The Islamist movement demands the resignation, or the
sacking, of the government and the formation of a national unity and reformist
government that would win the people’s trust and protect their lives,” said
Hamzah Mansur, chief of the powerful Islamic Action Front, the political arm of
Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood. “Any government that kills citizens loses
Youth movements also backed the move, AFP reported. “We
demand the prime minister and intelligence chief quit,” Firas Mahadin of the
March 24 youth group told reporters.
“We have reached a point of no
His father, Muwaffaq Mahadin, a prominent leftist writer, warned
“the country is heading towards a civil war and the government is responsible
for that because it wants to avoid reforms.”
The family of the dead
protester said he was beaten up by security forces, but the official Petra news
agency said he died after he suffered a stab wound in the chest during the
clashes which police were trying to quell.
Hussein al-Majali, the head of
general security, said security forces did not use excessive force and the
protester who died suffered from a heart attack. “Security forces had nothing to
do with it,” he said.
Islamist, leftist, liberal and tribal figures have
staged protests and sit-ins over the past few weeks calling for a constitutional
monarchy in Jordan.
King Abdullah responded to the anti-government
protests by sacking an unpopular prime minister last month and replacing him
with Bakhit, a former intelligence general, in a step seen as dealing a blow to
Islamist and liberal hopes for reform.
Dissent has built up and the
opposition, disgruntled with the slow pace of promised political reforms, has
become more vocal in its calls for change.
A Reuters cameraman was beaten
up by pro-monarchy supporters and Jordanian security forces. His camera was
broken. A photographer at the scene, Rabie Zureiqat, said security officers took
his camera beat him with batons.
On Friday, protesters chanted slogans
against the interference of intelligence agents in political activities and
called out against the head of intelligence, Mohammed Raqqad.
chanted “Peaceful, peaceful” and “We love Jordan.”
“The people want to
bring down political parties,” chanted the pro-monarchy crowd, which also raised
pictures of King Abdullah.