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Demonstrations in Jordan to oust king increase with boost in fuel prices

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 16th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's estimated that at least 2,000 people in downtown Amman participated in a demonstration for the ouster of King Abdullah of Jordan. The demonstration was spurred on by a boost in fuel prices. It was the third day of protests in the Western-backed Middle East kingdom. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Popular unrest took its toll in the mostly peaceful nation, as one person was killed during demonstrations this week. 

"Go down Abdullah; go down," the protesters chanted. Police in riot gear stayed away from the crowd which protested near the main Husseini Mosque.

"The people want the downfall of the regime," the people chanted. It echoed the sentiments of the Arab Spring uprisings that have shaken the Middle East and toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

"Shame. Shame. Prices are spiking and Abdullah gambles," people shouted.

It was a daring move on the protestors' part, as Jordan has long lived under a benevolent dictatorship. Criticizing the king in public is forbidden here and is punishable by up to three years in jail.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest opposition group, appealed to the public to take the streets. Top officials from the group, however, chose not to participate in the rally.

Fifty-year-old King Abdullah has ruled since 1999.

The protestor that was killed, along with many injured happened during an attack on a police station in Jordan's second-largest city of Irbid. Police said they used tear gas to disperse masked youths who attacked government property.

Some of the demonstrators torched part of Irbid's municipal headquarters later to vent their anger at officials who said the dead young man had been armed, the witnesses said.

Hundreds of people blocked roads, set government buildings alight and trashed shops in the Jordanian towns of Maan, Tafila, Salt and Karak.

"The country has risen up from north to south and this state of popular tension is unprecedented," Murad Adailah, a senior member of the Islamic Action Front said. The front is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A staunch U.S. ally with the longest border with Israel, Jordan has not seen the kind of mass revolts that swept other Arab countries. Many anxiously focus on Jordan, as the coming days will be crucial in testing whether the relative calm can continue.

Jordanians have held occasional protests inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, demanding democratic reforms and curbs on corruption. But those gatherings were peaceful and the security forces did not use weapons.

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