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Middle East
Jordan protest turns violent
Anti-government protests become routine on Fridays in Jordan since popular uprisings swept Egypt and Tunisia.
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2011 23:11 GMT
Jordan's king rules by decree and has the power to appoint and dismiss Cabinets and parliament if he chooses [AFP]

At least eight people have been injured in clashes that broke out in Jordan’s capital between government supporters and opponents at a protest calling for more freedom and lower food prices.

The protest was the seventh straight Friday that Jordanians took to the streets demanding constitutional reform and more say in decision-making.

Jordan's king enjoys absolute powers, ruling by decree: He can appoint and dismiss cabinet and parliament whenever at anytime.

Amani Ghoul, a teacher and member of the movement that organised the protests insisted the protests will continue until their demands are met.

"We want a complete overhaul of the political system, including the constitution, the parliament dissolved and new free and fair elections held," she said.

Pro-government supporters

At least 200 government supporters trailed the anti-government protesters, chanting: "Our blood and souls, we sacrifice for you Abu Hussein" - a reference to Jordan's King Abdullah II before clashing with the opposition march.

Tareq Kmeil, a student at the protest, said: "They beat us with batons, pipes and hurl rocks at us. We tried to defend ourselves, to beat them back."

He said at least eight people suffered fractures to the skull, arms or legs.

"Police didn't do anything to protect us. They just stood on the side watching us getting beaten," Kmeil said.

Police spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

Some pro-government supporters denounced Al-Jazeera, blaming it for fomenting unrest across the Arab world.

"Al-Jazeera is behind every sickness," read some of their signs.

Walid al-Khatib, a Bedouin Sheikh, joined at least 300 pro-government supporters in the western town of Theiban, saying he had to come out to profess his support for the king and country.

"I love King Abdullah and the stability of Jordan. I don't want this to ever change," he said.

But not everyone is upbeat about the government.

Akhram Ismail, 50, a government employee of 17 years who earns a meagre $140 per month, said his salary was not enough to feed his six children and wants to see changes to aid the poor.

Ismail vowed that Jordan would not see an end to the protests anytime soon.

"The government recently promised civil servants a pay raise of $28, while politicians play with millions," he said.

Source:
Agencies
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