Clerics want expulsion of American troops from Jordan


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 05 Apr 2003

By P.K. KATHARASON

AMMAN: A fatwa calling for the expulsion of American troops from Jordanian soil has been issued by the Islamic Action Front here, as thousands of people continue to protest against the killings of innocent civilians in Iraq. 

In a statement, the front’s committee of clerics described the presence of American troops at the Jordanian-Iraqi border as a “grave sin and a violation of national principles and interest.” 

They warned that US troops deployed along the border could at any given time use their position to launch a frontline offensive against Iraq as the Allied troops push into Baghdad. 

The fatwa also urged Jordanians to pressure the government to cleanse the nation of invading forces.  

Although, such fatwas did not carry judicial or legal weight in Jordan, moderate Islamic scholars fear that the front’s religious edict could stir up violent emotions among the large Palestine and Iraq populace living here. 

Generally, the man on the street doubted government leaders’ reiteration that the foreign troops at the Jordanian side of the border were only manning three Patriot anti-missile batteries delivered by the US in February. 

In trying to defuse uneasiness over the fatwa, Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb on Thursday called the US ambassador Edward Gnehm to condemn the rising number of civilian deaths in the Anglo American attack. 

“We are also concerned about the loss of civilian life and are taking all possible means to minimise to the maximum extent possible loss of innocent life,” Gnehm was quoted as saying in agreeing to convey Jordan’s views to Washington. 

Hoping to calm his subjects, Jordan’s ruler King Abdullah also gave a lengthy interview to the country’s news agency Petra, condemning the invasion and copies of the transcript of the interview were distributed to foreign journalists here. 

“As a father, I feel the pain of every Iraqi family, of every child, and every father,” said the King who has received two petitions from independent politicians that are seen by some as critical of Jordan’s stand on the Iraq invasion. 

To counter the petitions, tribal leaders have pledged their allegiance to the King, taking full-page advertisements in Arabic newspapers for a third consecutive day. 

Diplomats here are keeping a close watch on how the situation develops in the Kingdom once the American troops moved into Baghdad and removed the regime of President Saddam Hussein which is expected anytime soon.  

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