Hundreds march against government in Jordan

Dozens of protesters march toward Egypt embassy in Ankara, brand Mubarak puppet of Israel; protests also in Iraq, Malaysia

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 4, 2011 18:01
3 minute read.
Jordanian opposition protesters shout slogans

Jordan protest 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Nader Daoud)

AMMAN, Jordan — Hundreds of Jordanians inspired by Egypt's uprising on Friday staged a protest against Jordan's prime minister, installed just days earlier in response to anti-government marches.

However, Jordan's main Muslim opposition group said it wants to give the new leader a chance to carry out promised political reforms, and Friday's turnout was much smaller than in previous protests against rising prices.

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The scenes of mass protests in Egypt have riveted the Arab world, and unrest has spread to other countries, most recently Yemen where tens of thousands on Thursday called on their long-time president to step down.

However, expectations of large-scale protests in Arab countries after Friday's noon prayers, the highlight of the Muslim religious week, did not materialize.

In the Turkish capital, Ankara, dozens of protesters marched toward Egypt's embassy. One of the speakers, Mehmet Pamak, head of the pro-Islamic Scientific and Cultural Research Foundation, branded Mubarak a puppet of Israel.

Several thousand worshipers rallied outside a mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, in solidarity with the Egyptian protesters. "No to dictatorship," read a huge banner hanging from a wall of the Beyazit mosque.

Calls for protests in Syria

In Syria, where authoritarian President Bashar Assad has resisted calls for political freedoms, an online campaign calling for protests in the capital, Damascus, fizzled. Plainclothes police deployed in key areas of Damascus on Friday, and no protesters showed up Friday.

In Iraq, residents seizing on the Egypt protests staged two small demonstrations to protest corruption in their own security forces, rampant unemployment and scant electricity and water supply.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt

Over 100 Iraqis gather in central Baghdad

About 100 Iraqis gathered in central Baghdad's famous Mutanabi book market to complain about limited civil liberties and a lack of services. "No to the restriction of freedoms," read one of their banners.

Even the march in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Friday was far smaller than previous anti-government protests. Jordan's King Abdullah II has tried to preempt further unrest by sacking his Cabinet earlier this week and installing a new prime minister, Marouf al-Bakhit, amid promises of political reform.

The Islamic Action Front, the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, said it is confident about change after meeting with the king and al-Bakhit, said a leader of the group, Nimer al-Assaf.

"We are very optimistic that change will happen," al-Assaf said after Friday prayers at a mosque near the prime minister's office where the activists gathered.

He said the opposition would give the new government a chance and that he did not expect further protests.

Friday's protesters in Amman included Islamists and supporters of other opposition groups.

Small protests took place in three other towns in Jordan.

"We want jobs and an end to corruption, which is making government officials rich on the expense of poor people like me," said unemployed Mahmoud Abu-Seif, 29, who joined some 150 marchers in the city of Karak.

Across the Muslim world, worshipers and leading clerics expressed support for the uprising in Egypt, where huge crowds of protesters have been pressing for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

In Malaysia's biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, hundreds marched outside the US Embassy, calling on the US to pressure Mubarak to resign immediately. Protesters, including many from Malaysia's Islamic opposition party, shouted "Down, down, Mubarak."

Police used water canons to break up the crowd and arrested several demonstrators. Police in Malaysia, a country with a Muslim majority, regularly break up protests deemed illegal.


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