Pro-democracy Protests Spread to Jordan

Thousands of protesters, demanding democratic reforms in Jordan, have taken to the streets. The wave of public outcry, across the Arabic-speaking world, that started with one protest in a small Tunisian city, has roiled the political landscape of Egypt, sparked an organized movement for democratic change in Yemen, and inspired protesters in Jordan to demand changes to the structure of their government.

Specifically, demonstrators are denouncing the work of Prime Minister Samir Rifai, and the soaring food prices that are putting so many Jordanians at risk of falling into poverty. So far, the demonstrators have focused their ire on economic hardship, food prices, and the unpopular policies of the prime minister.

Protesters demonstrated in Amman and six other cities, demanding economic and political reform to help Jordanians struggling to cope with a sustained period of hardship and scarcity. Opposition parties, at least one of them linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, are also demanding elective government in Jordan, where the government is currently appointed by King Abdullah II.

According to the New York Times:

Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the most influential Arab satellite channels, broadcast nonstop coverage of the demonstrations and clashes in Cairo, from morning until well past nightfall.

“This is a moment, and we’re definitely going to see change,” said Laith Shubailat, a veteran dissident in Jordan, which has been beset by its own protests this month.

At present, the movement in Jordan is relatively small-scale, but organizers are talking about building the movement and pushing King Abdullah to hold elections for the parliament and the post of prime minister. As tensions escalate in Egypt, the manner of response of regional governments to their own protest movements may determine whether they are forced to confront the need for sweeping democratic reforms.

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