Jordanian police detain protesters blocking a main road during a demonstration… (Raad Adayleh / Associated…)
AMMAN, Jordan -- Anti-government protesters and security forces clashed Wednesday night as demonstrations broke out for a second day in Jordan's capital in response to the cut of fuel subsidies and rising prices.
Riot police and soldiers in Amman fired tear gas and attacked protesters with batons and activists said at least 10 people were arrested. Teachers and lawyers went on strike Wednesday and more protests and strikes are expected in the coming days.
Demonstrations were held in several other Jordanian cities as well.
Though the protests were prompted by escalating prices amid a souring economy, the thousands gathered called for freedom and the fall of the government of King Abdullah II.
"Listen, listen oh Abdullah, look what happened to your friends," they chanted at one point, referring to other deposed Arab leaders, though many seemed willing to settle for less drastic measures.
“We came out to reform the government,” said Muhammad Shalaan after stumbling into the entrance of a building, gagging on tear gas.
Shalaan, a bus driver, makes about $350 a month, which is well below the poverty line here. “How am I supposed to live?” he asked.
“This is in response to the rise in prices and for equality and for many things," said Manal Khateeb, an engineer wearing a University of Jordan hoodie as she eyed the riot police nearby. “You need to have the right to speak and the right to live with dignity. They consider any kind of expression a challenge to the government so they suppress it.”
For more than a year scattered protests have been held in Jordan in an attempt by activists to trigger a revolution like the ones in other Arab countries in the last two years. But the movement has yet to gather mass support.
"I view the king the same as [former Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak and his fate will be the same," said Zaid Najdawi, a criminal attorney.
Beside him walked his friend, Khalid Frehat, a computer science professor, who was carrying a framed loaf of pita bread on which he had written, “I hate you Abdullah.”
“The Jordanians don't want bread, we want to send a message that we want dignity," he said. “The Arab citizen is always linking stability with a loaf of bread as if that's all we wanted. The problems are many, there is no political program or economic program or social program."