Sunday, March 6, 2011

What with all the protests Jordanian Islamists come out of the woodwork ~ demand freedom for detained al-Qaida fellow mates

Jordanian Islamists shout slogans during a march in front of the Prime Minster office in Amman on March 6, 2011 as hundreds rallied demanding release their jailed Salafist colleagues.

Protesters chanted jihad, or holy war, "is our way to liberate Muslim lands from autocrats."

AMMAN, Jordan (CP)— Islamic extremists staged a rare demonstration in Amman Sunday, demanding release of suspected al-Qaida leaders now on trial.

The protest by the group of about 300 Salafi Muslims, whose ultraconservative sect is banned in Jordan, was only indirectly tied to weeks of demonstrations in Jordan, calling for significant changes in the regime. Protest leaders said they were taking advantage of the government's more lenient stance toward demonstrations to make their demands public.

The key figure on trial is Isam al-Barqawi, known as the mentor of the dead leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed in a June 2006 U.S. airstrike. Al-Barqawi, better known as Sheik Abu-Mohammed al-Maqdisi, and three others are facing terrorism charges.

Protester Abed Shihadeh al-Tahawi said al-Maqdisi is a "nationalist figure" defending Islam and "isn't a terrorist."

Protesters chanted jihad, or holy war, "is our way to liberate Muslim lands from autocrats."

They also demanded a regime of strict Islamic Sharia law in Jordan.

Men in the crowd had long beards and knee-long tunics and pants, typically worn by Afghan warriors. Women, standing separately, wore full-face veils and long black robes.

Tayseer Abu-Obada, a convicted militant from the southern Jordanian town of Maan, said the Salafis were holding a rare public protest because "of the atmosphere of openness we're witnessing these days."

In mostly peaceful demonstrations, Jordanians have been pressing for government reforms. Jordan is ruled by King Abdullah II and a parliament. The king has the final say in matters of state.

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