Protests in Jordan intensify: “Down with King Abdullah!”

 
Photo from a protest in the Jordanian capital, Amman. The placard reads “É bas le régime” (“down with the regime”). Posted this Wednesday on the Facebook page of Jordanian activists.
 
Protests took place on Wednesday in several Jordanian cities following the announcement of a hike in the price of oil and gas.
 
Hundreds of people participated in these protests. At times, the protests turned violent, with government buildings set on fire and shops looted in the cities of Maan, Tafila, and Karak.
 
According to witnesses cited by French press agency AFP, one protester was killed and several others injured during an attack on a police station in Irbid, the country’s second biggest city.
  
The price of gas increased from 0.71 to 0.80 dinars (0.88€), and the cost of a cylinder of gas increased from 6.5 to 10 dinars (11€), which is a 53% increase.
Contributors

"For the first time, the protesters chanted hostile slogans towards the King"

Kamal Khoury is a librarian in Amman.
 
The situation was generally calm this morning [Thursday] in Amman. Only a few dozen people gathered in front of the central police station to clamour for the release of protesters arrested over the last two days (80 in total, according to local media).
 
Last night, protesters tried to congregate in Gamal Abdel Nasser square, near the Interior Ministry. They were initially able to get into the square but were quickly dispersed by law enforcement agents using tear gas and water cannons. Because of this, they were forced to march in nearby streets, and in other areas, young men set fire to shops and banks.
 
The authorities are trying to prevent at all costs the protesters from setting up camp in this square because it is a symbol of past repression [Editor’s note: the dismantling of opposition camps in this square caused about 30 injuries and one fatality on March 25, 2011].
 

Protesters burned a portrait of the King in Dhiban, a town in the Madaba province in central Jordan. Posted on Facebook on Tuesday, November 13.
 
The protesters numbered about 3,000, which is a reasonably large number considering the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition group, has the capacity to mobilise thousands but decided not to participate. If the movement does not wind down in the next couple days, I think they will be able to rally the Muslim Brotherhood, and the government will be faced with the largest opposition movement since the revolt of April 1989.
 
During the ‘Arab Spring’ demonstrations in 2011, the protesters often chanted slogans calling for reforms and legal action against corrupt politicians, but never referenced the King. The rare few who dared to do so were arrested, and were not followed by the majority of protesters. But now the tone has changed. The day before yesterday [Tuesday], protesters broke the taboo regarding the sacred nature of the King by chanting loudly: “Allah gives us freedom, down with Abdullah!”
 
At 6 min.14. sec: the protesters chant: “Allah gives us freedom, down with Abdullah!” Video posted on YouTube on Tuesday, November 13.
 
By announcing an increase in the price of gas cylinders - just as winter is approaching - the government has shown a disturbing lack of judgment. It seems like it’s trying to do everything possible to turn the population against it. Many parents, who are typically not very politicised people, actually went out into the streets for the first time to express their anger against the authorities. It is the second time in only six months that the cost of oil and gas has increased. People have had enough.
 
Personally, I need to borrow money every month to pay my bills. But I consider myself lucky, because I’m unmarried and as a librarian, I have a higher-than-average salary: 600 dinars [about 660 euros]. Most Jordanians are not as well off as I am. Indeed, the average employee does not get more than 500 dinars [550 euros] per month, and with that they have to take care of their family.

   
Protesters burn dumpsters and throw rocks at the police. Video posted on YouTube on Wednesday, November 14.
 
  
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