Jordan protesters call for "downfall of the regime"

Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:07am EST
 
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By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters chanted the Arab Spring slogan "the people want the downfall of the regime" in Jordan's capital on Friday, as demonstrations against rising prices gather force in a country so far spared the brunt of Middle East unrest.

The mainly urban Muslim Brotherhood joined hitherto largely rural protests that have erupted in the last few days, raising the specter of lasting instability in the kingdom, a staunch U.S. ally with the longest border with Israel.

Friday's demonstration near the main Husseini Mosque in downtown Amman was peaceful, with unarmed police separating the demonstrators denouncing King Abdullah from a smaller crowd chanting in support of the monarch.

"Go down Abdullah, go down," the main crowd of about 4,000 protesters chanted as police, some in riot gear, largely stayed away from crowd.

Protests have turned violent in impoverished towns across the kingdom since Wednesday when the government imposed a hike in the price of fuel. Unemployed youths and demonstrators have attacked police stations, closed roads with burnt cars and torched government buildings.

One protester was killed on Thursday as a crowed tried to storm a police station in the northern city of Irbid. The provinces appeared to be quieter on Friday.

The Brotherhood's decision to back Friday's demonstration adds the voice of the country's best-organized opposition movement to the protests, although top Brotherhood figures did not appear in person.

"King Abdullah should take note of the situation by going back on the decision to raise prices. The Jordanian people are unable to shoulder more burdens," Brotherhood leader Sheikh Hamam Said said in a statement ahead of the protests.   Continued...

 
Jordanian demonstrators gather in protest against following an announcement that Jordan would raise fuel prices, including a hike on cooking gas, in Amman November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed