On the way home today I was listening to AmmanNet radio (who are doing an amazing job being a community radio station). On the air was the editor chief of the Islamist As-Sabeel weekly newspaper [Arabic link], who said that all copies of his paper where “confiscated by way of mass-buying” from newsstands in Amman, Zarqa and other areas.
The newspaper is accusing ‘certain sides’ of this action, has issued a press release in protes and intends to reprint the issue to distribute it tomorrow. The paper apparently contains coverage of the crisis between the government and the Islamic Action Front over the visit of four IAF deputies to Zarqawi’s house and the provocative remarks made by one of them.
There is an all out media war over the affair in the country. Al-Rai newspaper is waging a daily campaign against the IAF demanding a clear apology and that the IAF and the Muslim Brotherhood clarifies its position vis-a-vis the Jordanian State.
Two days ago, Al-Ghad published an opinion poll by Ipsos-Stat [PDF file] that showed a large majority of Jordanians that considers Zarqawi a terrorist (and not a martyr/hero). On the other hand a significant minority (15%) in the poll is shown to be pro Zarqawi. I actually wonder if this minority isn’t actually larger than stated. I guess that many people would not give a pro-Zarqawi answer to pollsters, seeing that such a position could put them in trouble with the authorities. Two other depressing facts from the poll: 1. the younger the polled the more sympathy there is with Zarqawi (and by extension extremist tendencies). 2. There is a clear East Amman/West Amman fracture showing. Clear warning signs.
The IAF, in its public statements, is refusing to apologize and is using an escalatory language too. It is threatening to move a demonstration of 100,000 people to show its strength. A few days ago it held a public meeting for a number of opposition figures who had extremely harsh accusations and tough word for the government.
This situation, in short, looks ugly. The four deputies are in a desert prison, awaiting trial for ‘inciting discord’. Human Rights Watch is criticizing Jordan, which in turn is demanding that HRW apologizes. The whole thing is entirely being cast by many as a government vs. IAF issue. There is a lot of flag waving on the government side and the usual accusatory tone by the IAF pointing toward a conspiracy to ‘contain’ it.
What is largely lost is a popular public, non-partisan voice against extremism and violence, save for a few voices in the press.
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