"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Islamists say Jordan arrests critics of U.S.

20 Dec 2004 16:36:06
Source: Reuters

By Suleiman al-Khalidi
AMMAN, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Jordanian authorities have arrested scores of Islamist and leftist activists critical of U.S. policies, leading opposition figures said on Monday.
Among those detained in recent weeks is Jamil Abu Bakr, a senior member of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the country's largest political party. It has a vocal voice in a parliament dominated by pro-government deputies.
Another former Islamist deputy, Sheikh Anees Deeb, was interrogated after his religious lessons in a mosque were deemed by authorities to whip up anti-U.S. sentiment that could encourage violence, they added.
"Tens have been arrested in the last two weeks and many were released. I cannot understand what the justification is for these arrests and under what law. They want to silence people over what's happening in Iraq and Palestine," Sheikh Hamza Mansour, head of the IAF, told Reuters.
"The authorities have lost their patience and every time someone utters a word they shut him down by arresting him."
Mansour said Jordanians were angry with Jordan's support for U.S. policy in Iraq and pro-peace policies that legitimised Israel's existence.
"They (authorities) want to confiscate our consciences. Ninety-nine percent of Jordanians hate America so maybe it's more appropriate if the government then goes and arrests the majority of Jordanians. It will make things easier," he added.
Interior ministry officials told Reuters several Muslim clerics had been arrested for violating a law that forbids unlicensed sermons. Officials deny security forces arrest anyone merely for holding anti-government views.
Ali Hatar, a leading activist in the Islamist-dominated trade unions' outlawed "anti-normalisation committee", which urges Jordanians to sever contacts with Israel, was arrested on Sunday, a week after he gave a lecture calling for a peaceful boycott of U.S. products in Jordan, opposition sources said.
Hatar was charged on Monday with "offending" the state, which carries a maximum 2-year prison term, lawyers said.
The Islamists who dominate the kingdom's mainstream opposition movement say the recent arrests mark the latest phase in a suppression of civil liberties since a landmark peace accord with Israel in 1994.
"Allowing the authorities to raid homes of leaders of political parties, scholars and preachers and their arrest for holding political views on public policies is a very worrying matter," Mansour said.

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Milton Frihetsson, 16:34


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