News / Middle East

Jordanians Politely Demand Reforms

Jordanian supporters of the Islamic Action Front carry a national flag as they shout slogans during a protest in Amman, Jordan, February 25, 2011
Jordanian supporters of the Islamic Action Front carry a national flag as they shout slogans during a protest in Amman, Jordan, February 25, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Heather Murdock

Amid heavy security, thousands of protesters including the Muslim Brotherhood, youth groups and smaller political parties marched in Amman demanding government reforms and parliamentary elections.

As uprisings continue to threaten governments across the Middle East, Jordanian protesters took to the streets for the eighth week in a row on Friday, in what many believe to be their largest protest to date.

"The people demand an elected government," they shouted, before denouncing the recently fired prime minister, along with current Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, both named by King Abdullah II. After Friday prayers, protesters, loosely divided into groups including Jordan’s largest opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, marched through downtown surrounded by thousands of police officers in what has become a weekly event.

But unlike violent clashes that have plagued many of the protests in the Arab World, and injured eight in Jordan last week, this Friday’s demonstrations were notably polite.

Police handed out juice boxes and bottled water, and protesters dispersed swiftly when the demonstration officially ended in the early afternoon. A cleaning crew in orange suits swept the streets, finding little trash had been left behind.

Despite the relative serenity of the Jordanian protests, activists say they are no less determined that their demands will be met. Activist Omar Abu Rasah said he is prepared to sleep on the streets until he has some kind of guarantee that Jordanians will be legally guaranteed elections and future liberties.

"We want an elected government," said Abu Rasah. "We want to give all the authorities for the people. Directly, something like a Magna Carta, as what happened in England. We are looking for these kind of changes now in Jordan."

Like most protesters, Abu Rasah said he supports the Jordanian monarchy, but wants to empower voters with legal reform, like the famed 13th Century Magna Carta that limits the power of the English monarchy and guarantees the rights of the people.

"We want to keep the kingdom, we want to keep the king, but we want the authority for the people," added Abu Rasah.

Protesters say they want swift investigations into corruption charges and economic reforms.  Jordani journalist Tariq al Hmedy said he has been covering the protests since they began two months ago, and they continue to grow. Al Hmedy said demonstrations have consistently drawn average working-class people, who live on $350 a month, or less, in what many say is the Middle East’s most expensive city.

But unlike past protests, al Hmedy said today’s demonstrations drew more of what are traditionally pro-government groups from outside the capital, Amman. These groups, he said, are now opposing the government and demanding their rights.

"It’s the first time people come from outside Amman, from the Bedouin, from outside Amman, from the other cities, and say ‘No, stop. We want to do something. We won’t allow for you to steal our money and steal our freedom,'" noted al Hmedy.

Protesters also say they want to stop soaring food prices, high taxes and nepotism. Since the protests began, King Abdullah has replaced his cabinet, appointed a new prime minister and promised wide-spread reforms. And even though activists hold pictures of the monarch and chant, "Abdullah we love you!" they still say the changes are not coming fast enough.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid