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Shoppers return to Jabal Hussein after Wednesday's clashes

By Muath Freij - Nov 15,2012 - Last updated at Nov 15,2012

AMMAN — Shoppers were back on the streets of the capital’s bustling commercial neighbourhood of Jabal Hussein on Thursday during the day, one day after the area witnessed clashes between the Gendarmerie Forces and rioters protesting against fuel price hikes.  

In a highly anticipated move, the government lifted fuel subsidies late Tuesday, raising the price of 90-octane gasoline by 15 per cent, diesel and kerosene by 33 per cent and gas cylinders by 53 per cent. 

The government’s decision was met by several demonstrations across the Kingdom over the past two days, including one at the Interior Ministry Circle where police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters at dawn on Wednesday. 

Protesters attempted to return to the vital intersection on Wednesday evening, but the heavy security presence forced them to move their demonstration to Jabal Hussein instead. 

The sit-in devolved into riots and clashes with the Gendarmerie Forces after protesters provoked the police, according to traders in the area. 

Police intermittently closed off sections of downtown Amman, the Sports City Circle and the Interior Ministry Circle to traffic in response to the protests, which led to traffic congestion on Wednesday.

However, vendors in Jabal Hussein on Thursday said the situation was back to normal in the area and many people went shopping. 

Abu Zaid Al Qudsi, an owner of a sweets store in Jabal Hussein, said that many people ventured out for a walk in the neighbourhood and to do some shopping. 

“Many customers came to my shop and bought sweets. I noticed that people returned to their normal routine,” he told The Jordan Times outside his store. 

A clothes trader, who refused to give his name, noted that most shops opened their doors at around 9:00am. 

Several shopkeepers in Jabal Hussein, one of the seven hills of Amman, criticised the violence that took place on Wednesday, urging protesters to maintain peaceful demonstrations. 

Qudsi stressed that a limited number of trouble makers were responsible for Wednesday’s violence. 

“Most people were chanting, but some started provoking the security forces,” he said.   

Qudsi noted that the Gendarmerie tried their best to contain the situation. 

“The Gendarmerie Forces did not initiate the clashes with the protesters, and only resorted to firing tear gas and water at them when they were provoked,” the sweets shop owner pointed out. 

A pharmacy employee, who refused to give his name, said Wednesday’s clashes forced him to close. 

“Some of the protesters came into the pharmacy and we provided them with first aid. When the Gendarmerie started firing tear gas at around 9:00pm, most of the merchants on this street decided to close their stores and go home,” he told The Jordan Times. 

He said some protesters started throwing stones at one shop, after its owner went out and started shouting at them.

“He told them if you want to demand something, ask for it in a peaceful manner, not by destroying other people’s property,” the pharmacist added.

He said some protesters destroyed banners encouraging people to take part in the parliamentary elections.  

A restaurant employee in the area, who also did not give his name, said many protesters fled to residential areas in Jabal Hussein after the clashes erupted. 

Fares Bayyat, a clothing trader, said he was saddened by Wednesday’s riots. 

“I support the demonstrators’ demands regarding fuel prices, but we don’t want Jordan to witness the same incidents some Arab countries have been witnessing recently,” he said. 

Meanwhile, security forces closed the Interior Ministry Circle to vehicles and pedestrians on Thursday afternoon. 


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