Protests that erupted after the government announced an increase in the price of fuel continued for a second day. Someone was conspicuous by his absence today – King Abdullah has not spoken publicly since the people rose up in anger at the government’s abrupt announcement (nor is any speech planned, according to Ammon News. Indeed, the most iconic image of the King has been that of a poster being guarded by riot police as though the poster was King Abdullah himself – rather than an enlarged picture.
Qais Alomari, only 22 years old, became the first protester killed since the people rose in anger at the government’s abrupt announcement. An AP story about his death claims that he part of an armed attack on a police station in Irbid in which 13 officers were injured, but there’s no actual confirmation about this other than from the police themselves who say the police station was sprayed by bullets from a moving vehicle. A witness identifies him as a young man involved in political activism. It seems likely that police killed an unarmed young protester and then sought to cover it up – and discredit protests at the same time – by making it seem like part of an armed attack.
The government’s continued silence is in many ways deafening. They have behaved in a consistently undemocratic manner really ever since Jordan first became independent. These protests were triggered by the fuel prices – especially the increase in the price of cooking gas by 50 percent – but there is something deeper here.
A major source of anger is the fact that the government has mastered the art of stalling. You can go back to any number of previous years and find a statement by King Abdullah saying that there will be reform and democracy, but then it simply doesn’t actually happen. Eventually though people see through continued broken promises and rise up to demand their rights. These protests could be the first sparks of a revolution.