"God does not love those Muslims," says teacher following prayers.
By MATTHEW GUTMAN
God's name was evoked often in this battered city on Friday.
Messages, apparently posted by al-Qaida terrorists behind last week's bombings, said the attacks were conducted in the name of God. On Saturday, Jordan's King Abdullah condemned the attacks by people who twist the words of God, and vowed to crack down on those who "support or back terrorism."
The long columns of protesters on Thursday who filed past the three bloodied hotels in Jebel Amman, the swankiest part of town, comprised much of Jordan's more secular elite. Women in Chanel sunglasses stood atop Cadillac SUV's dabbing their tears with kerchiefs.
But, downtown on Friday, the men and boys who poured out of the al-Husseini Mosque were of a different sort. Scruffier, these were the types of men who, for a few pennies, purchase a flattened cardboard box to pray on instead of a prayer rug.
"War is for foreigners, not for us," said Dr. Mahmud Abdel Muhsen. The 87-year-old has been teaching Shari'a, or Islamic Law, at the Husseini Mosque for the better part of 55 years. "I can tell you," he spat from a toothless mouth, "that God does not love those Muslims. They do not know Allah."
He explained that nowhere in Islamic law is it permissible to slaughter "56 innocents, this I know."
Sprightly, but no match for the jostling crowd of a few thousand that marched from the mosque, Muhsen decided to sit this rally out. But through rheumy blue eyes he watched with satisfaction the banners that bobbed past. One common banner read: "God curse those who kill the innocent." Another read, "Terrorism blackens Islam."
Perhaps because this was partly a pro-government rally, there were no murmurs blaming the US, which many in the Arab World accuse of pouring fuel on the fire of Islamic militancy. There were no calls against Israel, nor any traces of ashes from the torched flags of those two countries. After all, the rally was kicked off by Jordan's Prince Hassan, formerly the inheritor of the kingdom's throne, and still a proponent of tighter ties with the West and Israel.
Hussein Kamal, a 22-year old university student had joined the protest, not to cry, but to celebrate. "Today we celebrate our life," he said, "All those who died, now they will become martyrs. They will go to heaven." A devout Muslim, he already had a callous developing on his forehead where Muslim men touch their head to the floor during prayer.
He explained that one of the protest's leaders calls of "Yes, yes to Jihad," was actually a call for personal and national introspection. "It is like a Jihad of the heart," he said.
Kamal, like Jordan's elite and other lower middle class men like him, said he would support a forceful reaction by the government against Islamic extremists. "Nowhere that I've read," said the student, "does it say that to be a good Muslim you have to kill people. You don't need to be militant."