Pro-monarchy group attacks pro-reform protest in Jordan

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 25, 2011 12:14 PM

AMMAN (Reuters) - Dozens of pro-monarchy demonstrators hurled stones and yelled profanities at protesters calling for political reform in a confrontation near the Interior Ministry Friday, a witness said.

Islamist, leftist, liberal and tribal figures have staged protests and sit-ins over the past few weeks calling for a constitutional monarchy. But the demonstrations have been on a much smaller scale than elsewhere across the Arab world.

Security forces earlier in the day erected a barrier in the Gamal Abdul Nasser roundabout near the ministry to keep the two sides separate, and beat back those who tried to breach it. They later used water hoses to try and disperse the protesters.

"The (pro-monarchy) thugs were throwing stones from one side and police were attacking protesters with sticks to push them back," protester Mahmoud Hamawi told Reuters.

A member of the medical team with the pro-reform protesters, some of whom camped out in the roundabout Thursday night, said more than 50 people had been injured, some seriously.

They chanted Friday against the interference of intelligence agents in political activities and called out against the head of intelligence, Mohammed Raqqad.

They also chanted "Peaceful, peaceful" and "We love Jordan."

"The people want to bring down political parties," chanted the pro-monarchy crowd, which also raised pictures of King Abdullah.

Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit's cabinet earlier this month announced the creation of the national dialogue committee in response to a call by King Abdullah to accelerate reforms.

Jordan's Islamist opposition said it would not join the panel because it would not be discussing constitutional changes to curb the monarch's powers.

(Reporting by Lina Ejeilat, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)