Protesters Rally Into Night in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan — Hundreds of demonstrators calling for reform rallied late into the evening in the Jordanian capital on Friday, a week after riot police officers and government supporters violently broke up a rally and a protest camp, leaving one man dead and scores injured.

This Friday’s demonstration, by contrast, went on for hours without intervention. The reformists stayed at their new location, the downtown Municipality Square, from after noon prayers until 10 p.m.

The protesters hailed mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood and the March 24 Movement, a new organization that had originally planned to camp out from that date until their demands for reform were met, like those who took up temporary residency in Tahrir Square in Cairo. But the camp was destroyed a day after it was set up.

The Muslim Brotherhood estimated the number of protesters on Friday at up to 2,000, though others said it was closer to 800. The main demands raised by the demonstrators were an end to corruption and constitutional reform that would curb the sweeping powers of King Abdullah II.

Pro-democracy demonstrations have been taking place here regularly since January, when the Tunisian revolution set off a wave of regional upheaval. Responding to public pressure, the king replaced the cabinet and ordered his new prime minister, Marouf al-Bakhit, to begin electoral reforms and reach out to all elements of Jordanian society, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

But progress has been slow, and the opposition groups have meanwhile stepped up their demands for more fundamental constitutional reform.

The police were out in force on Friday, and convoys of cars driven by young men and decorated with Jordanian flags and portraits of King Abdullah paraded through streets that were blocked to other traffic. Hundreds of police officers separated a small group of pro-government demonstrators from the main protest, which ended peacefully this time.

Zaki Saad, head of the political bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that promises had been given by the authorities that demonstrators would not be attacked.

There is now an official decision not to send thugs to attack the demonstrators,” he said in an interview. That, he said, “proves that what happened last Friday was the result of an official decision.”

He was referring to the violence of the previous week when government supporters attacked the protesters with sticks and rods. When the protesters fought back, the riot police were called in, and they broke up the fighting as well as the tent camp.

The opposition groups say there have been attempts to polarize the society and to portray the protesters as antipatriotic. Commenting on the parades of cars on Friday, Mr. Saad said it was “a continuation of the campaign to provoke division among the people, between ‘loyalists’ and ‘reformists.’ ”

Later, the Muslim Brotherhood shura council issued a statement saying, “We urge the king’s direct intervention through a major reform initiative to prevent sedition, defuse the crisis, ensure freedoms, introduce true political change and avert division.”


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