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US Embassy Protests in Amman*

September 15, 2012

Protesters gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Amman on September 14, chanting anti-American slogans.

Last night just before 7 p.m. as the sun was beginning to set on the city of Amman, I hopped out of a cab in front of the U.S. embassy, where there were about 150 protesters across the street from the heavily–guarded compound praying.

About five minutes after I arrived, the demonstrators began to chant and wave the black flags of jihad — which represent a fight for God — in the air.

“Leave you bastard, Leave you pig, The ambassador should leave!”

“No American embassy on Jordanian land!”

“Death to America!”

A man screamed into a megaphone, held up on the shoulders of his fellow protesters. An angry woman in a black nikab shook a Koran in the direction of the embassy. Another woman in front of the crowd shouted herself hoarse, “No more Americans in Amman!”

This particular protest brought a day of unrest throughout Amman, Jordan’s capital, to a close. Earlier in the day, after noon Friday prayers, there were demonstrations at and near the U.S. Embassy, as well as downtown, where American flags were burned and the now infamous YouTube video, Innocence of Muslims, was rallied against.

Police outnumbered the protesters, creating a barrier that blocked the shouting mass of people from the street. On the other side in front of the compound, about 40 additional men in riot gear formed a line behind concrete barricades. Behind the riot police were  several trucks manned with artillery and more security, at the ready if needed.

Dusk turned to night, and the demonstrators, mostly young and middle-aged men, alternated between sitting down and listening as someone in the middle of the group spoke, then standing up and jumping as they began their rally call again, index fingers held up together in the air.

“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

Friday night protest in front of the U.S. embassy.

Several men at the front of the group facing the embassy each took off a shoe and shook them at the consulate in unison, matching their movements to the rhythm of their chants. “We said goodbye to Bush with two shoes,” as a warning to Obama to be careful.

About an hour after it had began, the crowd began to disperse. The group was a mix of people from different movements. Some, like Hanaa Abed-Alghani, stopped to talk to us about why they were there. Abed–Alghani promised that her and the people from her new movement, Cleaning Jordan, would gather again on Sunday, September 30 at 3 p.m. in front of the Syrian embassy. Mohammad Hyasat, wearing a sharp black suit and white dress shirt, explained that he was from a group called Alliance of the Virtuous II.

Before leaving, they announced that they would gather today and promised a large protest next Friday as well.

*Much thanks to Talal Al-shoubaki for contributing translation and reporting!

*Note: I changed the headline of this post after Newsweek came out with their “Muslim Rage” issue. I was reminded of the importance of sometimes skipping the sensational headline and giving serious thought to what negativity and imagery can be conveyed when an eye-grabbing header is published above an article without proper context – even on a blog.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 17, 2012 11:43 pm

    Appalling.

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