AMMAN — Hundreds rallied on Thursday to the call of an anonymous group of social media activists to take to the Fourth Circle in protest under the “Maanash” (‘we don’t have any’ in Arabic) banner, including former members of Parliament and prominent political figures.
The original organisers of the “Maanash” movement that held a week-long nationwide protest in June, leading to the resignation of former prime minister Hani Mulki’s government, denied any affiliation with the ongoing protests.
Former MP Hind Al Fayez was seen in pictures at the protest, as well as prominent Islamist activist and Muslim Brotherhood member of the Shura Council Zaki Bani Irsheid.
A statement made available to The Jordan Times from the “Hirak Theiban” movement, a group of political activists from the southern town of Theiban in Madaba Governorate, said the group would be joining the Fourth Circle protest.
The Jordanian Communist Party and the “Hirak Al Ramtha Al Shaabi” (Ramtha Youth Movement) were also among other political grassroots movements that declared joining the demonstration, which gathered at least 500 people despite rain and bad weather.
Protesters chanting “down with the Parliament” blocked the street connecting the Fourth Circle with the Interior Circle in both directions, calling for a general pardon and the rescinding of the income tax bill, which lawmakers recently passed, and is pending the King’s endorsement.
Demands by protesters also included the withdrawal of the cybercrime draft law, Jihad Kawamleh of Theiban movement told The Jordan Times.
Activists on the scene echoed similar sentiments regarding the controversial bill, which was referred to the Lower House earlier this year.
“The government wants to suppress our opinions. It insists on enforcing the law to restrain our freedoms, and lawmakers are overly enthusiastic about binding our tongues,” said 29-year-old Omar Harasees, a resident of Amman’s Tabarbour area.
The Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported chants demanding the government slash fuel prices in accordance with the global price range.
Speaking on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Action Front, Bani Irsheid told The Jordan Times that “the members of the Islamist movement in Jordan partook in the protest, as they represent a wide national current”.
Furthermore, he said these protests were a result of the state’s dismissal of Jordanians’ demand for political reforms and their rejection of the new tax bill.
“We do not want faces shuffled around. We want change in policies and approaches. Despite protests and outright rejection of the income tax law, the government and Parliament still endorsed it,” Harasees commented.
Protesters who spoke to The Jordan Times were able to name the organisers.
Regardless of the ambiguity surrounding the recent calls to protest, “all Jordanians need to join in, as the government is taking us for fools, as they often do”, pharmacist Qais Al Saeed told The Jordan Times.
“The premier has made a pledge to us. I was one of his many supporters, optimistic about his arrival at the Fourth Circle [at the Prime Ministry]. Sadly, I stand disappointed today, as I see no serious, tangible reforms under way, not at all!”
Friction between protesters and police observed at the scene was minimal. However, police prohibited reporters and citizens from taking pictures from the pedestrian overpass overseeing the protest’s location, and as a result, The Jordan Times was not able to capture the full scale of the protest.
Officials had warned citizens against gathering on the overpass back in June, fearing it would collapse.
However, many pictures were posted and circulated on social media.
According to Petra, a joint police and Gendarmerie force was present on-site, as authorities rerouted traffic and maintained the peace.
Mohammad Ghazal and Abdul Rahman Bazian contributed to this report