Jordanian security forces on Tuesday used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators it blamed for disrupting public services during a protest demanding the release of leaders of the opposition-run teachers union, state media said.
Official sources have accused the Muslim Brotherhood of mobilizing teachers who are loyal to the organization, which is not authorized to operate in the kingdom.
A government source said seven security forces were injured in the protest in the southern city of Karak, with violence breaking out for the first time in an escalating crisis between the authorities and the union that has become a leading source of dissent.
The government on July 25 closed the offices of the 100,000 strong union and suspended its activity for two years.
The union went on strike last year, shutting down schools across Jordan for a month in one of the longest and most disruptive public sector strikes in the country’s history.
In recent weeks its leadership has accused the government of failing to honor a deal signed last October that ended the strike.
Prosecutors charged its jailed leaders with incitement and financial and administrative wrongdoing.
The cities of Irbid, Karak, Jerash and Tafila have seen scattered night protests in the past few days with hundreds of opposition activists taking to the streets, calling for the government’s resignation, an end to corruption and the release of jailed unionists.
Security forces kicked off a wide campaign of arrests targeting teachers who were involved in the Irbid protest.
Government sources confirmed that they were detained for “incitement to hold an illegal rally.”
Social media posts by pages affiliated with the teachers said some 50 of the teachers were arrested.
The Jordanian public appeared divided over the developments.
Supporters of the union have defended its right of “freedom of expression and holding peaceful rallies.” Critics, however, accused the union and its council of escalating tensions, noting that the protests took place during fragile economic and social conditions.