AMMAN — The Public Security Department (PSD) will never abandon its responsibility to protect and defend the public and their properties, and will continue to maintain security and stability, PSD Director General Gen. Hussein Majali said on Wednesday.
The police will continue to carry out their mission of protecting citizens who express themselves and exercise their constitutional right in peaceful activities, Majali said in a PSD statement.
He stressed that the police force will continue to maintain law and order regardless of how big or small the peaceful demonstrations are.
The police chief added that over the past few weeks, the PSD has been closely following what has been said about plans for a large-scale demonstration called for by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the participation of other political groups and activists.
Majali added that there has been news of another “counter-demonstration” slated to be organised in the same location, downtown Amman’s Nakheel Square.
News reports have said that the police, angry at an Islamist leader for accusing the PSD of protecting the “thugs”, in reference to pro-government protesters, decided to stay away from the venue, sparking fears among the public of unprecedented violence.
The Muslim Brotherhood-led “Save the Homeland” march is expected to drive 81 parties, reform coalitions and local popular movements to the streets on Friday.
Chief among their demands are constitutional amendments “placing citizens at the source of authority”, the formation of a “national salvation government” comprising various political groups to lead a “national dialogue” on the various crises facing the country, and greater efforts to tackle corruption.
Organisers say the rally, which Islamists have previously forecast to draw up to 50,000 citizens, will also call for a rollback of “security services’ grip on civil and political life”, “greater respect for the freedom of expression” and the release of detained protesters.
The recent announcement of a counter-protest to support “the reform efforts of His Majesty the King” has sparked fears of potential clashes, with several current and former public officials calling on the Islamist movement to relocate or postpone the rally.
According to the PSD investigations, there is a possibility that some outlaws may take advantage of the situation to create disorder and disrupt the peaceful demonstrations, Majali said.
He added that police will take several measures to ensure the safety of all participants, such as setting up checkpoints on the main roads leading to and from the location where the demonstrations are slated to take place.
“We will not allow any non-Jordanian to be in that area for security reasons,” the PSD director said, adding that the demonstration will be escorted and guarded by a significant number of police officers at all times.
Calling on the demonstrators to cooperate with the police, Majali said the PSD will not hesitate to take action against whoever threatens the safety of others.
On the other hand, he urged citizens who plan to organise a counter-demonstration to put the public interest ahead of any other considerations and to postpone their planned activity to avoid any friction with the participants in “Save the Homeland” march.
“I call on all members of the police force to continue their honourable duties and to adhere to the utmost level of professionalism while protecting their brothers who will be taking part in the demonstrations and to provide whatever assistance needed to everyone including journalists,” Majali said.
Also on Wednesday, the Senate called on the government to protect peaceful marches and prevent any clashes between them.
In a statement, the Upper House reiterated its respect for all popular movements in Jordan and their right to express their opinions without resorting to any form of violence, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) said the PSD has pledged to protect journalists who will cover Friday’s marches in downtown Amman.
In a statement, sent to The Jordan Times, CDFJ President Nidal Mansour said PSD Spokesperson Lt. Col. Mohammad Khatib informed him that the department would safeguard journalists’ right to free movement during the marches.
Mansour noted that a team from the centre will be present at the marches to document any incidents.