Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Pro-government supporters carrying banners of King Abdullah shout slogans during a demonstration after Friday prayers last week.
Pro-government supporters carrying banners of King Abdullah shout slogans during a demonstration after Friday prayers last week.

Supporters of Jordan's King Abdullah stage loyalty marches

As demonstrators make increasingly loud calls for political reforms in Jordan, loyalists have put on their own rallies.

AMMAN // Rallies expressing loyalty to Jordan's king are sweeping the country as demonstrators calling for political reforms have ratcheted up their calls for constitutional amendments.

Critics say the rallies are attempting to slow down the reform debate in the country, even as the government pledged to introduce amendments to laws that govern political life before the end of the year.

"These are orchestrated rallies and come against the pro-reform protest," Imad Hmoud, an independent analyst, said. "Governors are pushing citizens and tribal leaders to participate in loyalty protests and to place ads of loyalty in papers. They are hoping this would slow down and distract attention from actual reform measures."

In recent weeks there have been growing calls for "regime reforms", and a return of the country's 1952 constitution, before it was amended and consolidated the king's grip on power, in order to pave the way for a constitutional monarchy.

Marouf Bakhit, the newly appointed prime minister, promised in recent weeks to amend the electoral law by the end of this year. Critics say the law favours politicians who support the king by drawing voting districts that hamper challengers.

The calls for reform have prompted loyalists to stage their own rallies which were broadcast on state TV in the past two months, including continuous festivities marking King Abdullah II's birthday on January 31.

The demonstrations are a show of support for the king, who is facing a growing challenge from weekly street protests which initially demanded more jobs and a better standard of living before evolving into calls for reform of the government.

Some of the loyalty celebrations showed Bedouins dancing, while other citizens including children recited poems of praise. Television has also shown a "carnival" of buses, adorned with the king's photos and flowers, driving through the capital's streets last month.

The loyalty fever was also evident on Normina, a Jordanian satellite TV station that last month launched a four-day "one million" electronic vote in support of the king.

It sought to "thank the King for his previous, current and future efforts in developing the country and to prove to the entire world that Jordan is an oasis of stability.

"We have registered over 1.5 million votes," Imad Nashash, a TV anchor at the station said.

Most recently, a group of ten Jordanians, retired army men and independents, were rallying support for one million citizens to march In Amman on Saturday, calling it a day of loyalty in support of King Abdullah. It remains unclear how many people will participate.

The group, that got together last month, has already posted statements on dozens of Jordanian websites urging citizens to participate and to stand against those "who try to undermine the country's stability and security." Videos on YouTube show members of the group reciting poems under a huge portrait of the king.

"Go out and let your voices be heard across the word that loyalty is to God and then Abdullah," the statement read. "Those with suspicious agendas have planted their seeds in the country, it is our duty to root them out before they become entrenched," it read.

Fawwaz Khreishah, one of the committee members said: "We want to attract public attention that the regime has support. There should be more turn out in these rallies, he said.

Hundreds of impoverished Jordanians from across the country flocked to the royal court in central Amman yesterday after a rumour it was giving out up to 500 dinars (Dh2,570) in cash aid, but the authorities denied any handouts.

"I came early in the morning from Karak [southern Jordan] after I heard the royal court was giving money to the poor," Hamad Buheirat, 53, a retired soldier, said.

The palace denied it was handing out financial aid and said people behind the rumour had been arrested.

 

smaayeh@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National