Jordanian tribes publicly criticize queen

Jordanian tribes publicly criticize queen
The heads of 36 tribes in Jordan have publicly accused Queen Rania of corruption and have called on King Abdullah II to remove her completely from the country's politics.

In an unprecedented move which breaks a taboo in the region, the tribal leaders said that Queen Rania was creating her own centers of authority in Jordan and pursuing interests that contradict the demands of the people, reported on Friday.

In a joint statement, the tribal leaders said, “We call on the king to return the land and farms given to the Yassin family (of the queen) to the treasury. The land belongs to the Jordanian people.”

Tribes make up about 40 percent of Jordan's population.

Experts say political discontent has been growing in the desert nation. According to the laws of the country, people who publicly criticize the king, queen, or any member of the Jordanian royal family can be sentenced to three years in prison.

The tribal leaders also called for new election laws and more transparency in parliamentary elections.

A member of a large tribe said Jordanian authorities had "pressured some tribes for several days and told them to be careful in what they say to the international press."

It seems the anti-government protests in Tunisia and Egypt have inspired Jordanians, who recently began putting pressure on King Abdullah.

He is being called on to ensure that major economic and political reforms are made promptly.

On Tuesday, after three weeks of anti-government protests, King Abdullah sacked the prime minister, Samir Rifai, and appointed Marouf Bakhit in his place, instructing him to "take practical, quick, and tangible steps to launch true political reforms."

But the opposition says Bakhit is not a reformist.

"We want seriousness on the ground. We want a genuine reform. We want initiatives now so that people feel they are partners in decision making," Islamic Action Front Secretary General Hamzeh Mansour said.

"Arabs used to fear their authoritarian regimes. Things have changed and now Arab leaders fear their peoples," a political analyst said recently.

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