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'Down with the King': Jordan Protests Intensify as Police Threaten 'Iron Fist'

'This is a real revolt against corruption'

by
Common Dreams staff

Protesters at al Baqaa Palestinian Refugee Camp, Jordan chant anti-King Abdullah slogans (Photos: Mohammad Hannon)

Over ten thousand protesters marched in cities across Jordan on Friday chanting, "down with Abdullah... Abdullah your era is gone," on the fourth day of protest calling for Jordan's King Abdullah II of the U.S.-backed monarchy to go.

Protesters in Amman were met yet again by police, who blocked access to the area surrounding the royal palace. In Baqaa, the country's largest Palestinian refugee camp, around 2,000 people protested while police fired tear gas into the crowds, according to Agence France-Presse. Other demonstrations took place around the country, including Tafileh, Karak and Maan, Irbid and Jerash.

Throughout the week police have clashed with protesters -- leading to the death of one person, 71 injuries, including policemen, and roughly 158 arrests. Jordanian authorities have threatened further heavy-handed crack downs on the unrest. On Thursday Hussein Majali, Jordan's police chief, stated, "We will hit with an iron fist those who violated the law by stirring unrest."

The protests, which began on Tuesday, were sparked by a sudden and steep increase in fuel prices, indicative of the country's corrupt ruling party, opposition groups maintain. Jordan currently has high levels of poverty, unemployment and high inflation.

The protests have been led by several seemingly disparate activist groups including the secular Hirak youth movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various nationalist and left-wing groups.

"The people want the fall of the regime. Abdullah, reform or leave, you have lost legitimacy," the crowds shouted outside the Husseini Mosque in downtown Amman Friday.

The uprising is now drawing comparisons to the Arab Spring -- a movement which largely skipped over Jordan at the time. Now, Jordanian protesters' signs include phrases such as: "This is a real revolt against corruption" and "No reform without political and economic change. Long live the revolt of Jordanians."

A large rally has been scheduled in Amman Friday evening at 4pm (GMT); however, reports of the rally had not yet surfaced at the time of writing.

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