The recent days have seen an increase in the activity of the Salafi-jihadist movement in Jordan, which has begun to hold large protests in central locations in the capital. Two protest rallies were held in Amman over the past week, and another is planned for Sunday (March 13, 2011). The Salafi-jihadist activists are demanding the release of their prisoners from Jordanian jails and the implementation of shari’a law in the country. The protests featured blatant jihadist symbols, such as the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq organization (aka Al-Qaeda in Iraq), which has not been seen before in Jordanian demonstrations (see images below).
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The first Salafi-jihadist protest, which took place on March 1 outside Amman’s largest mosque, was attended by some 500 people who demanded a pardon for Salafi-jihadi prisoners. They called out slogans against democracy and secularism and in favor of shari’a law and jihad, such as “The Is No Alternative to Allah’s Law” and “Jihad Is Our Path.” According to reports, the demonstrators clashed with police and accused them of being funded by the EU and U.S.
A prominent figure at the demonstration was Abu Muhammad Al-Tahawi, one of the leaders of the Salafi-jihadist movement in Jordan. He is known for his close ties with the movement’s spiritual leader, Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, who was arrested several months ago by the Jordan authorities.
The second demonstration took place only five days later, on March 6, outside the King’s offices and the government headquarters. It was attended by 300 people, who waved Al-Qaeda flags, reiterated the demand for the release of prisoners, and also attacked the U.S. and Israel and called on “the jihad fighters in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen to implement the [laws of] the shari’a and the Koran.” They shouted slogans in support of Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi and other slogans, such as “The People Want Koranic Law,” and “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return.” Among the demonstrators were released prisoners who protested against the tortures and humiliations which, they said, are suffered by Islamists in Jordanian jails, including whippings and the shaving of their head and beard.