Jordanians Protest Near AFP’s Offices in Amman
Dozens of young Jordanians demonstrated near the offices of Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Amman on Tuesday, the Jordan Times reports.
According to the report, the protest revolved around AFP’s report on Monday on the attack on Jordanian King Abdullah’s motorcade in the city of Tafillah.
The protesters rejected the AFP report as baseless. The agency had quoted an anonymous “security official” as saying that King Abdullah’s motorcade “was attacked with stones and empty bottles by a group of men.”
The attack was reported on by several outlets and was confirmed to Israel National News by other sources. Mudar Zahran, a political activist who lives in London, told INN that his sources in Jordan confirmed that “the king’s convoy came under fire from angry young men from Tafillah.”
Zahran said that after the king’s convoy left the scene, guards and protesters exchanged gunshots from more than two hours near the local university.
The Jordanian government later denied that the attack took place, with a government spokesman saying: “What happened is that a group of young Jordanians thronged the monarch's motorcade to shake hands with him.” When police pushed them away, “There was a lot of shoving,” he said.
Tuesday’s protesters, said the Jordan Times, accused AFP of “inciting sedition by spreading false information,” and called for trying its Amman Bureau Chief, Randa Habib.
One protester was quoted by the Jordan Times as saying that AFP had “insulted Jordanians, especially Tafilis,” with the report.
Meanwhile, Tafillah MP Yahya Saoud told the Jordan Times that AFP has to unveil its source for the report, despite the fact that Jordanian laws support journalists’ right to protect their anonymous sources.
“When national unity is harmed, the source should be uncovered,” he said, adding that AFP “offended the people of Tafillah and all Jordanians.”
Monday’s attack on the King had come hours after he promised democratic reforms – without setting a date.
In a televised address on Sunday, the king promised Jordanians that a “future” government will be elected instead of appointed by the king, who appoints his cabinet ministers and can dissolve parliament, which is elected by the people.
Abdullah stated his “opposition to chaos that leads to destruction” and warned against the “dictates of the street.”
Jordan has been largely spared the violence that has spread throughout the Muslim world in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. The king’s promised reforms are most likely part of an effort to stave off the spread of such rebellions to Jordan.
His promises represent the first time he has outlined concessions to Jordanians, many of whom have demanded that he surrender much of his power. There have been few calls, for the time being, for the demise of the Hashemite monarchy, which is widely respected in the country.