Al-Dustur newspaper reported that Prime Minister Faisal al-Fayiz will meet a delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood later on Sunday to defuse the crisis stemming from the arrests of 11 unlicensed clerics. 

The Interior Ministry said on Thursday that a number of people who led sermons "in which they attacked the state" had been arrested, and reiterated a ban on giving sermons in mosques without authorisation from the Islamic Affairs Ministry. 

The head of the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the arrests as a political ploy to weaken his organisation and said the movement would appeal to King Abd Allah. 

"Removing the [moderate] Islamic message of the Brotherhood paves the way for extremism," Abd Al-Majid al-Thunaibat told al-Dustur daily. 

Pledge to conform

Interior Minister Samir Habashna said that 11 clerics had been taken into custody and asked to sign a pledge to refrain from delivering sermons without official approval, the press reports said. 

The Islamists were arrested for
delivering 'unauthorised sermons'

Seven of them agreed to sign and were released, Habashna was quoted as saying by Jordanian newspapers. 

Islamist MP Azzam Hunaidi told al-Dustur two others refused to sign but were nevertheless released on orders from the prime minister. 

The Interior Ministry was still waiting to hear from elderly clerics Ibrahim Zaid Kilani - a former minister of Islamic affairs  - and Ahmad Kufahi, both of whom are in hospital and could not be subpoenaed, newspapers said. 

A statement by the Brotherhood on Saturday said 39 Islamists were arrested by the authorities on Thursday and Friday for delivering unauthorised sermons. 

"The Muslim Brotherhood condemns these illegal moves, which target Islam and its representatives," the statement said, describing those arrested as scientists and scholars who teach and guide Muslims, not "common criminals".