By Shaherah Khatatbeh
AMMONNEWS - The massive 'Save the Homeland' Protest on Friday turned into a speech rally as thousands crowded the streets of downtown Amman in front of Al Husseini mosque chanting slogans for reform.
The number of participants continued to rise as the organizing Islamists and over 80 youth and popular movement and political parties erected a podium across from Al Husseini Mosque from where they reiterated their boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Crowds from four different mosques descended on foot to Al Husseini Mosque from four directions following Friday midday prayers, amid complete traffic shut down to all entrances to the downtown area since early morning on Friday.
Overall Comptroller of the Muslim Brotherhood Hamam Saeed expressed in statements to the press that the situation of the mass rally is "reassuring."
Saeed reiterated the demands of the Islamist movement and called for radical and tangible political reforms.
The participants stressed seven essential reform conditions, including a modern and democratic electoral law, constitutional reforms that guarantee people as the source of authority, elected parliamentary government, separation of powers, establishing a constitutional court, combating corruption, and stopping the interference of security forces in political and civil lives of citizens.
Participants chanted slogans addressing King Abdullah II directly, calling on him to implement genuine reform measures. The protest comes a day after King Abdullah dissolved the 16th Parliament and ordered new elections slated to be held early in 2013.
Witnesses and journalists estimated the number of participants to reach between 10,000 and 20,000. Organizers of the event estimated the participants at 50,000 despite official speculation about the numbers.
The downtown Amman area witnessed heavy security presence since Thursday evening, with over 2000 police and gendarmerie forces deployed throughout the area to maintain order in Jordan's largest protest to date since the beginnings of pro-reform protests in January 2011, and the most encompassing in terms of the variety of participating popular, youth, and political parties and movements.
Police patrol units and desert border forces set up check points at various intersections inside Amman and at the entrances from various governorate and managed to arrest over 8 people Friday morning who attempted to go to the downtown district with gun, knives, sticks, and batons. Three vehicles were seized with guns and batons.