Monday, April 18, 2011

Al Qaida-type Salafists - Go medieval - fight Jordanian security with swords and clubs

Salafi protester holds a sword during a demonstration for 
extremist Salafi Muslims in the town of Zarqa,
east of Amman, Jordan, Friday, April 15, 2011. 
"Down down with America, down with democracy," the Salafists chanted.

"We will have Islamic law rule in Jordan," Al Tahawi said. "It's only a matter of time, and all of America and Israel's efforts will go away."

AMMAN — Jordan's Al Qaida-aligned movement has clashed with security forces, which sparked a crackdown on the opposition.

At least 100 police officers were injured in a battle between so-called Salafists and security forces in the northern city of Zarqa. Officials said the Salafists, who practice an ascetic variant of Islam similar to that in Saudi Arabia, fought pro-kingdom supporters and police on April 15.

"The government will do all that is needed to protect the security and dignity of citizens and safeguard the reform march," Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit said.

About 350 Salafist used clubs and swords to beat and stab police and pro-regime demonstrators in Zarqa.

"Such manifestations of wielding swords, clubs and sharp objects in the street and intimidating people, will never recur or go unpunished, regardless of the price," Bakhit said.

Salafi protester holds a stone during a demonstration for extremist Salafi Muslims in the town of Zarqa, east of Amman, Jordan, Friday, April 15, 2011
The kingdom has long banned the Salafists, whose philosophy resembles that of Al Qaida. But, this year, the movement emerged as a powerful element in the Islamist-led anti-government campaign in Jordan.

"One day all the Arab world will be ours," Salafist leader Abd Shehada Al Tahawi said.

Witnesses said the violence began when pro-regime supporters gathered near the Salafist rally outside a Zarqa mosque. When the royalists began to march toward the Salafists with a portrait of King Abdullah, the Salafists responded with sticks and fists. Later, police intervened and persuaded the pro-regime supporters to move away.

"Down down with America, down with democracy," the Salafists chanted.

The Salafists have called for the imposition of Islamic law in Jordan as well as the release of an estimated 300 of its members. Salafist leaders also called for the severing of diplomatic and military relations with Israel and the United States.

"We will have Islamic law rule in Jordan," Al Tahawi said. "It's only a matter of time, and all of America and Israel's efforts will go away."

Within hours of the clash, security forces arrested 70 Salafist figures, including Al Tahawi. Bakhit said authorities would track and arrest the Salafists who assaulted security forces and other demonstrators.

"What was done by the followers of a misled group of dark blasphemous thought has nothing to do with Islam, its principle and message," Bakhit said on April 16. "Their slogans are not part of calls for political reform, rather of violence, breaking the law and offending all without exception."

World Tribune

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