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Brotherhood calls for releasing detained leader

By JT - Nov 29,2014 - Last updated at Nov 29,2014

AMMAN – The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan, on Saturday called on authorities to immediately release one of its top leaders. 

At a press conference at its headquarters, the IAF said the party was shocked by the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Overall Leader Zaki Bani Rsheid over statements he made on his Facebook page attacking the United Arab Emirates. 

Bani Rsheid criticised the UAE for labelling the Muslim Brotherhood movement as a terrorist group. He was arrested on November 20 and is currently awaiting trial at the State Security Court for “harming relations between Jordan and the UAE”.

Also at the press conference, the Islamists called for the release of other movement members who have been arrested over the past weeks, saying recent arrests show that authorities are cracking down on activists who express their views and call for political reforms. 

The IAF called for cancelling the Anti-Terror Law, which they said is used for “intimidating the public and suppressing the freedom of expression”. 

“These arrests are politically motivated and unjustified,” said a statement issued by the IAF following the press conference, accusing authorities of trying to weaken the movement. 

Officials have denied that the arrest of Bani Rsheid was politically motivated or was part of a plan targeting the Islamic movement. 

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and several government officials insisted last week Bani Rsheid’s prosecution is legal because his insulting remarks against the UAE could have harmed relations between the two countries, as the Gulf state is home to more than 225,000 Jordanian expatriates. 

Official figures show that the UAE has offered economic and financial assistance to Jordan worth JD2 billion between 2012 and 2014. 

According to the recently amended Anti-Terror Law, comments and statements by individuals that could sour Jordan’s relations with a friendly country is a punishable crime. 

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