AMMAN | Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:03am EST
(Reuters) – Islamists, leftists and trade unionists gathered in central Amman Friday for the latest protest to demand political change and wider freedoms.A crowd of at least 3,000 chanted: “We want change.” Banners and chants showed a wider range of grievances than the high food prices that fueled earlier protests, and included demands for free elections, the dismissal of Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s government and a representative parliament. The protest after Friday prayers was organized by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood which is the only effective opposition and biggest party, but included members of leftist parties and trade unions. Jordan’s protests, as in several Arab countries, have been inspired by the uprising that overthrew the Tunisian president. “After Tunisia, Arab nations have found their way toward the path of political freedom and dignity,” said Zaki Bani Rusheid, a leading Islamist politician. Demonstrations have taken place across Jordan calling for reversal of free-market reforms which many blame for a widening gap between rich and poor. Jordan is struggling with its worst economic downturn in decades. The government has announced measures to reduce the prices of essentials, create jobs and raise salaries of civil servants. Protesters say the moves do not go far enough.
An earlier post reported on protests organized by the Jordanian Brotherhood last Friday.
The IAF is generally considered to be the political wing of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. The current leader of the IAF is Secretary-General Ishaq Farhan a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, one of the three founders of the IAF, and a former education minister and senator. Mr. Farhan is also listed as a director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism. In 2000, Mr. Farhan was denied entry to the U.S. after having had his visa revoked in the prior year without informing him. The New York Times reported at that time that unidentified American diplomats called Mr. Farhan a “moderating force” and that he “as kept a distance from the vociferous opposition to peaceful relations with Israel.” However, in 2003 a media report said that the IAF had “declared a jihad in favor of Iraq and Palestine if the US attacks Iraq.”
To see all GMBDW coverage of developments, go here.
For GMBDW coverage on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, go here.