Jordan charges 3 opposition activists with 'incitement'

AFP , Sunday 25 Nov 2012

A court in Jordan charges three Muslim Brotherhood members with incitement against the regime during recent fuel-related protests

Regime loyalists hold pictures of Jordanian King Abdullah and shout slogans against the Islamic Action Front Party in support of the King in front of the Party headquarters in Amman November 23, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

A Jordanian court on Sunday charged three members of the main opposition party -- the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing -- with incitement against the government during recent protests, a judicial source said.

The Islamic Action Front in response called for the immediate release of all prisoners detained in connection with the protests.

The three suspects, charged by the kingdom's state security court with "incitement to oppose the regime," will be kept in custody for 15 days pending three separate cases, the source told AFP.

There are now 107 people awaiting trial in connection with a spate of recent protests sparked by fuel price hikes, including one woman, according to the same source.

Senior party official Ali Abu al-Sukar called for the "immediate release of all prisoners."

"Arrests will not scare Islamist and popular movements," which will continue to demonstrate to "reform the regime," he said in a statement.

A government announcement last week that fuel prices, including household gas, were set to rise by up to 53 percent sparked a series of protests, some calling for King Abdullah II to step down.

Calling for the king's overthrow is punishable by imprisonment.

The demonstrations were a major departure for the kingdom, which had previously been spared the kind of unrest in other countries rocked by the Arab Spring.

The initial protests against the announcement descended into violence, with one person killed, 71 injured, and 158 arrests made, police said.

A judicial source said on Monday that the public prosecutor had "charged 101 suspects with incitement against the government, rioting and illegal gathering."

Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur defended the price hike, saying the decision was "unavoidable" given the country's $5-billion (3.9-billion-euro) budget deficit, and that the measures would save $42 million by year end.

Jordan relies on imports for 95 percent of its energy needs and has been struggling to find affordable alternatives to Egyptian gas supplies, which been repeatedly hit by sabotage.

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