Jordan Islamists stage largest pro-reform protest
AMMAN (Reuters) - Thousands of Jordanian Islamist supporters marched on Friday in the largest demonstration since Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted last year, calling on King Abdullah to accelerate democratic reforms.
Protestors from across the country flocked to the main street leading to the Husseini mosque in downtown Amman after Friday prayers and chanted: "Listen Abdullah, our demands are legitimate."
The "Friday to Rescue the Nation" rally was called by the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition party, to push for their demands for broader political representation and a more democratic parliament.
Sheikh Hamam Said, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, said a concessionary move by the monarch to dissolve a rubber-stamp, tribal-dominated parliament on Thursday to set the stage for elections expected early next year was not enough.
His party will not go back on decision to boycott future elections under the current political system, he said.
The Islamists say electoral laws passed last July are tailored to curb their influence by drawing constituencies lines in favour of sparsely populated, pro-government tribal areas that have a majority of parliamentary seats. Heavily populated cities which are their traditional strongholds are grossly under-represented, they say.
Hundreds of youths carried banners saying: "The corrupt are God's enemies" and "For how long will the regime protect corrupt officials?"
Other placards called on the powerful security forces to end their pervasive role in political life.
Jordan has had nearly two years of peaceful street protests by Islamists, tribal figures and leftists, inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, but they have focused on reforming government and limiting King Abdullah's powers rather than ousting him.
The large demonstration went peacefully after loyalists who had planned to congregate at the same location called off a counter rally, defusing tensions that had raised prospects of clashes.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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