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Jordanians Protest Against  War in Iraq


Jordanians organized several small demonstrations after midday prayers Friday to protest the war in neighboring Iraq. For the third week in a row, demonstrators shouted anti-American slogans, and chanted their solidarity with the Iraqi people. But the numbers have decreased and so has the violence.

"Listen Bush, Listen Blair," they chanted. "Listen to the Arab masses."

"We are here to protest against the war, the criminal war launched against Iraq," said one woman, "and we are against the Bush policy that wants to overrun the whole world, and they want to control the petroleum in this area. We are against Saddam, but we are with the people. The people are the victims, not Saddam."

More than 1,000 protesters vented their anger and frustration during a peaceful march through a middle class neighborhood of Amman. Protesters carried banners that read "blood for oil" and "no war in Iraq." A young man burned an American flag. Another called on the protesters to donate blood for Iraqi civilians injured in the conflict.

In the southern city of Ma-an, considered an Islamist stronghold, demonstrators called for a holy war against the United States.

The demonstrations come a day after King Abdullah told the state-run news agency he deplored the killing of Iraqi civilians. For the first time, he referred to them as martyrs. The monarch also described the war in Iraq as an invasion. The shift in his rhetoric appears partly aimed at responding to widespread public anger over the U.S.-led war.

Jordan has tried to keep a neutral position, but the government has allowed American troops to be based near the border with Iraq. The government says the troops are in Jordan for purely defensive purposes.

Demonstrators on Friday called on the government to expel them from the country.