Clashes erupt in downtown Amman Protests

[19-02-2011 12:00 AM]

Ammon News - AMMONNEWS - Several people were injured on Friday when clashes erupted between protestors at two apposing demonstrations in downtown Amman.

The clashes erupted between protestors from two demonstrations, one calling for political and economic reform, and the other a demonstration of "Loyalty and Belonging" to King Abdullah II, with allegations that security forces did not intervene to break out the clashes.

Around eight people sustained injuries and fractures, and foreign journalists reported threats to confiscate their cameras.

Secretary General of the Popular Unity Party Saeed Dhiyab told Ammon News that the clashes were instigated by a group of hooligans, and charged that security forces condoned the violence by not intervening to break out the fights.

He blasted that the Jordanian government has not learned from the lessons of the Egyptian revolution except "Baltaja" or thuggery, taken up by Egyptian security forces to subdue protests.

Dhiyab said that what took place on Friday indicates that the government is not serious in the reform process.

Columnist and political activist Muwaffaq Mahhadeen, who sustained injuries in the head and arm on Friday, said that the behavior of a group of hooligans today gives a negative impression about the kingdom, and noted that the violence was instigated by a group of vandals paid by security forces.

"This is shameful," he expressed, "but this will not dissuade us from demanding reform.. what took place on Friday motivates us to continue in our protests."

Eye witnesses said that the group of hooligans stormed into the demonstration carrying metal batons, sticks and threw rocks at the protestors.

The first demonstration started in downtown Amman near Al Husseini mosque. Protestors demanded political and economic reforms, and protested soaring prices and restrictions on public freedoms.

Political reforms called for include a return to the Jordanian 1952 Constitution which stipulates a constitutional monarchy, with protestors demanding amending the law to enable an elected government.

Cabinets in the current Jordanian constitution are appointed by the King, who also has the authority to dismiss governments and parliaments.

Activists from leftist, Islamist and university student movements took part in the protest, supported by the growing "Jayeen" Youth Movement for Change.

The protestors were met with an apposing smaller demonstration of nearly 200 in downtown, which labeled itself as the "demonstration of loyalty and belonging to King Abdullah II, chanting slogans of "We will sacrifice ourselves with our blood and souls for Abu Hussein ~ in reference to King Abdullah.

Meanwhile, Jordan's official news agency Petra reported that protestors raised banners calling for annulling the 1994 Wadi Araba peace treaty with Israel.

Petra added that the "loyalty" protesters chanted slogans again meddling with "Jordanian national security by foreign entities."

It added that "scuffles occurred between youth in the two demonstrations because of varying opinions, leading security personnel to intervene to break up the fight."

Meanwhile, Spokesperson of the Public Security Directorate (PSD) Lt. Col. Muhammad Khatib said that the demonstration launched Friday afternoon from Al Husseini Mosque in downtown Amman, calling for economic and political reforms, Jordan's official news agency Petra reported.

Khatib added that the demonstration was met by a counter demonstration, calling for not "meddling with national security." A group of storeowners and shopkeepers from the area joined the second protest on the pretext that the demonstrations in the past weeks has interrupted their business.

Verbal and physical disputes occurred between protesters, Khatib said, causing security personnel to intervene to prevent further clashes between all parties and to protect everyone's right to peacefully express their opinion, which is the PSD policy of providing a suitable environment to a democratic and civilized way of expression.

Khatib stressed that no material damage was reported to nearby stores, and PSD reported that four people were admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Three people were discharged from the hospital, and one person remains for treatment.

Meanwhile, Mahhadeen told CNN on Friday that he sustained injuries in his arm, and five others from the Unity party also sustained light injuries.

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