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
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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid