Travails of Jordan's most popular Islamic activist

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Khalil Marwan

Muharram 04, 1419 1998-05-01

Occupied Arab World

by Khalil Marwan (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 5, Muharram, 1419)

Jordan’s, and perhaps the Arab world’s most popular Islamic activist is under virtual house arrest despite being released from jail on April 16. Layth Shubeilat’s house in the Marj al-Hamam suburb of Amman has been placed under 24-hour surveillance by the Jordanian security forces when word got out that he was to visit Ma’an, a town 220 km south of the capital. It was in Ma’an last February that one person was killed and scores injured when the Jordanian regime brutally crushed a peaceful rally in support of the starving children of Iraq.

Layth Shubeilat was arrested before he could get to Ma’an. A week earlier, a number of Jordanian opposition groups had held a massive rally after Juma’ prayers in the capital, Amman, drawing attention to the plight of the Iraqi children and the complicity of the Hashemite monarchy in the US/British-led embargo against Iraq. Such exposure has irked the already unpopular regime which has become totally exposed as a stooge of US-Zionist interests.

In an April 26 letter addressed to the prime minister, Shubeilat drew attention to the massive security presence around his house and the constant surveillance to which he is subjected. The authorities are adamant that Shubeilat must not visit Ma’an whose residents have made clear that they will receive no one else but him. Even Kreishan, the minister who hails from Ma’an, has been told by his own town people that he is unwelcome until Shubeilat arrives.

So nervous is the regime about Shubeilat’s visit to Ma’an that it has erected at least 20 checkpoints on the highway from the capital to the town. The people of Ma’an joke that the security forces do not ask for anyone’s ID at the checkpoints; they simply stick their necks in the cars to check that the face of Layth Shubeilat is not among the travellers!

The people of Ma’an have resisted pressure to postpone their invitation to Shubeilat for a few weeks until conditions improve; for the regime of course. The people are so disgusted with the regime that they are throwing pictures of the king outside their homes. This is unprecedented in the history of Jordan. They have refused to bow to government demands saying that Layth is welcome any time and that he shall spend the night at the home of the martyr Mohammad Al-Kateb (shot dead during last February’s rally).

On April 24, some people from Ma’an phoned Shubeilat saying that a delegation from the town would visit him in the afternoon. His telephone is bugged by the intelligence and orders were immediately issued to put the entire neighbourhood where he lives, under siege. When the delegation from Ma’an was spotted on the highway near Amman, it was ordered back and escorted all the 220 kms back to their town.

This is the royal hashemite democracy of Jordan. King Husain is touted in the west as a ‘moderate.’ His moderation is reserved for the zionists; with Islamic activists, he is very harsh, in complete contravention of the Qur’anic command for believers to be kind to each other and harsh towards the kuffar (49: 29).

Not surprisingly, king Husain is so liked by the kuffar. He was recently given a Media award in Germany, ostensibly for his efforts to free the press in Jordan. The reality is very different. Newspapers and the press are in chains. There is a complete blackout about the news relating to Shubeilat, for instance. Similarly, no criticism can be directed against the regime for surrendering to the Zionist entity. This allegedly undermines the kingdom; presumably surrendering to the Zionists does not.

Shubeilat’s travails, meanwhile, are not over. He has been charged with ludicrous charges. His defence lawyers refused to submit any evidence in court saying that the charges against their client were so absurd that there was nothing to respond to. The charges do not relate to Shubeilat at all. But then, it is Jordan, the west’s favourite tin-pot monarchy.

The defence plans to conclude its argument in court on May 4 following which the bench must give its verdict. If past experience is any guide, the chances are that he would be found ‘guilty’ of unspecified charges but then the good king, in a gesture of magnanimity, will pardon him. The tiny ruler will come out smelling roses.

Such antics, far from embarrassing him, endear king Husain more to the west.

Muslimedia: May 1-15, 1998

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