Jordanian anti-riot forces stormed a protest in the southern city of Tafileh on early Saturday after participants began chanting slogans reportedly criticizing King Abdullah II.
According to eye-witnesses and activists, authorities fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse a group of some 60 protesters after activists began chanting slogans insulting the Monarch, arresting 15 participants.
“As soon as we started using the words ‘royal palace’ and ‘regime,’ the police came at us with force,” said Fadi Abadeen, an activist who was present at the protest.
A Jordanian security source confirmed that police arrested 15 protesters who currently face charges of attempting to “undermine the regime” and “incite a riot.” “The young men who were arrested were acting outside the lines of the law and were trying to cause a riot and not protesting peacefully,” the source, who is not authorized to speak to the press, told the DPA.
Jordanian security officials refused to disclose the anti-King slogans allegedly chanted by protesters.
Activists contend that their rally was peaceful prior to the riot forces’ storming.
Tafileh residents had organised the rally to protest the detention of local activist Mohammed Al Amaara, who was arrested hours earlier for reportedly making statement criticising Queen Rania during an anti-government protest following Friday noon prayers.
The clashes came as activists took to the streets in nine of Jordan’s 12 provinces on Friday in a series of anti-government rallies urging Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh to step down for a recent rise in fuel and water prices.
Friday’s incident marked the second such clashes between security forces and activists in Tafileh, 179 kilometres south of Amman, a hotbed of anti-government political activity and the birthplace of Jordan’s 21-month-old protest movement.
Unlike neighbouring countries, Jordan’s protest movement has long called for “regime reform” rather than “regime change,” urging for a transfer of King Abdullah’s constitutional authority to form governments to the people