Jordan Charges 13 Activists with Insulting the King

April 1, 2012  

Jordanian military prosecutors on Sunday charged 13 political activists with incitement against the regime, rioting and insulting King Abdullah II, AFP reported.

The charges come a day after police broke up their demonstration, the report noted.

“State Security Court prosecutors accused the 13 of inciting the public against the country’s political regime, rioting and insulting the king,” a court official told AFP, which reported that the 13 face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

On Saturday, around 200 members of various youth movements demonstrated near the prime minister’s office in Amman to demand the release of six activists who were jailed last month for insulting the king.

According to AFP, anti-riot police dispersed the protest after the demonstrators refused to stop chanting against the regime.

Public Security Department spokesman Mohammad Khatib told AFP that police had arrested 28 of those who took part in the protest, 15 of whom have subsequently been released.

The suspects are being tried before a military tribunal because of the nature of their alleged crimes, Khatib said.

According to a statement released by the Public Security Department, the arrests were made after “some protesters broke the law, disturbed public order, blocked traffic and insulted security officials.” The statement added that the demonstration “was not peaceful.”

Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood condemned police action against the protesters, telling AFP, “Dispersing the protest and arresting the activists escalate tension in the country,” according to spokesman Jamil Abu Baker.

He added, “Their chants came as a result of frustration that no real reforms have been introduced and no genuine anti-corruption steps have been taken.”

Abu Baker told AFP that “the regime still has time to prove its good intention. Reform is the only solution to the current tension and escalation in Jordan.”

Jordan has seen relatively small but persistent Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations almost every week since January of last year, demanding sweeping reforms and a tougher clampdown on corruption. Last Friday, hundreds of Jordanians demonstrated against what they charged was “procrastination” on reform in the country.

King Abdullah II has promised Jordanians some reforms, including a “future” government that will be elected instead of appointed by the king. The king appoints his cabinet ministers and can dissolve parliament, which is elected by the people.

Those reforms have been slow in being implemented, and Middle East expert Dr. Assaf David of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has said he believes the king’s intentions are neither serious nor genuine.

Dr. David recently told Arutz Sheva he believes that even if King Abdullah is not overthrown, he is losing the public’s support and his decision-making ability is gradually being reduced.

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