Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Marshals Amman Protest


Time Magazine is reporting that the political wing of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood “virtually took over” the local  protest movement by rallying its supporters in a protest march on Friday. According to the report:

After sitting out a three-month long wave of protests, Jordan’s Islamists have finally taken to the streets. On Friday, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), Jordan’s main opposition party and a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, virtually took over the protest movement by rallying supporters in the capital Amman, turning out more than 1,000 marchers in the city. Though sometimes seen as a loyal opposition, the movement had been mostly dormant since boycotting the country’s 2007 elections, claiming the polls had been rigged to subvert the Islamists’ power. ‘It’s a surprise that they suddenly came out today,’ says Chris Phillips, Jordan country specialist at the Economist Intelligence Unit. Until Friday, anti-regime sentiment had been marshalled by an inexperienced group of young Jordanians who dubbed themselves the March 24 movement and modeled their actions on Egypt’s activists. They had been stymied after police hit their protests with rocks, sticks and water hoses on March 25. Fewer than 400 demonstrators came out in Amman the week after that incident. Most civilians believed the movement was dead in the water. Getting young people involved in politics ‘is like pulling teeth,’ says Naseem Tarawnah, the CEO of 7iber, an Amman platform for citizen-generated media. ‘It’s unrealistic to think that it’s going to become the vanguard of the anti-government movement,’ adds Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Institute. ‘No one should expect them to play that role. It’s going to take a longer time for them to develop a larger constituency.’ (See photos of Jordan’s protests turning to violence.) Since Friday, the IAF’s leader, Hamzah al-Mansur, has been ubiquitous on television and in print media, a prominent spokesperson for a protest movement his organization did very little to encourage. Indeed, the demonstrations seem to be more sharply focused. Spurred by the IAF, not only did more than 1,000 paraded from Amman’s central Al-Husseini mosque to City Hall, it very clearly called for reforms including the dissolution of Parliament and the toppling of Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit.

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The Islamic Action Front (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 foundersof 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 reportedat 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.”

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