Sat, Nov 22, 2014 - Page 7 News List

UAE criticism lands opposition politician in prison in Jordan

Reuters, AMMAN

Jordan arrested the deputy head of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday for criticizing the United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) move to designate the Islamist political movement and its local affiliates a terrorist group, official sources said.

Zaki Bani Rushaid was detained shortly after a late night meeting at the party’s headquarters in Amman, marking the first arrest of a major political opposition figure in Jordan in recent years.

The state security prosecutor general ordered his arrest on charges of “souring relations with a friendly country” after he wrote an opinion column attacking the Gulf state’s role in a regional crackdown on political Islam, the sources said.

Jordan has long clamped down on dissent against Gulf monarchies that are political allies and the kingdom’s main financial backers.

In the column, which appeared on various Web sites and in social media, Bani Rusheid said UAE rulers were “the first sponsor of terrorism and had no legitimacy.”

It was published shortly after the UAE on Saturday last week formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.

“The leadership of the UAE is playing the role of American policeman in the area and performs the dirtiest roles to help the Zionist project, and is behind all destructive acts against the Muslim and Arab nations’ aspirations,” Bani Rushaid said.

The UAE move underscores concern in most of the US-allied Gulf monarchies about political Islam and the influence of the Brotherhood, whose Sunni Islamist doctrines challenge the principle of dynastic rule.

Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood is the country’s biggest political opposition party. It has operated legally for decades and has substantial grass-roots support in major urban centers.

The party demanded the immediate release of Bani Rushaid.

“We reject this unjustified arrest in this heavy-handed manner of a prominent national figure,” a Brotherhood statement said.

In contrast to a tough crackdown facing their ideological counterparts in Egypt and in the Gulf oil producing countries, Jordanian authorities have tolerated the Brotherhood’s presence.

However, Jordan has arrested several members of the group in recent months for publicly criticizing the government for not taking stronger measures to censure Israel after the war in Gaza.

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