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Maan residents call for easing security restrictions

By Taylor Luck , Khetam Malkawi - Jun 28,2014 - Last updated at Jun 28,2014

AMMAN — Some 20 residents of the southern governorate of Maan held a rally on Friday afternoon calling on the government to ease “security restrictions” on their town.

Maan Mayor Majed Sharari told The Jordan Times that the gathering was not organised by a specific group as reported by some media outlets, and it was held to protest against recent incidents that took place in the city, some 220km south of Amman.

A 36-year-old man was shot dead when Gendarmerie forces raided a house in Maan last Monday while looking for a wanted person.

A woman and three Gendarmerie officers were injured in the shoot-out.

Some media outlets reported that a Jihadi Salafist group organised the rally against supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants who are gaining ground in neighbouring Iraq.

“This is baseless news,” Mohammad Shalabi, one of the leaders of the jihadist movement in Jordan, told The Jordan Times over the phone on Saturday.

The cleric, known as Abu Sayyaf, added that there was a plan to organise a rally against the recent incidents and call on the government to ease security restrictions, but “it was cancelled.”

“It was not the right time to organise such a rally,” said Shalabi without elaborating further.

Eyewitnesses, however, told The Jordan Times that some 30 members of Jordan’s hard-line Al Qaeda-affiliated Salafist movement rallied the southern city to protest against what they described as ongoing heavy-handed security measures.

Yet within minutes of the rally, protesters clashed with a handful of pro-ISIL activists who attempted to raise the upstart jihadist group’s banner in the middle of the protest and chant slogans calling for imposing an Islamic caliphate.

The clashes were quickly contained when Abu Sayyaf convinced ISIL supporters to remove themselves from the march to “preserve unity”, eyewitnesses claimed.

“For years, the same clerics have been attempting to dominate the jihadist movement and impose the agenda of their masters, the US, Saudi Arabia and Jordan,” charged Khaled Al Maani, organiser of Islamic State Jordan — the upstart jihadist movement’s recruiting arm in Jordan. 

Al Qaeda has been locked in a bloody war in Syria with ISIL — its former affiliate in Iraq which broke off from the parent organisation due to ideological differences and its desire to expand into Syria.

Jordan’s hard-line Salafist movement claims a membership base ranging from 6,000 to 8,000.

Currently some 2,200 Jordanians are fighting alongside Islamist militias in Syria and Iraq, with the bulk, some 1,400, reportedly serving under the banner of ISIL.

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