AMMAN, Jordan — Zaki Bani Rushaid, the provocative deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, has never been shy with his opinions.
For years, Jordan did nothing as he railed — often on nationwide television — against Jordan’s “meager” political reforms and what he sees as continued attempts to cozy up to the United States, which he calls “the cause of tyranny in the Middle East.” Despite his high profile, the kingdom appeared not to see him, or the Brotherhood, as a threat.
Then, on Nov. 17, Mr. Bani Rushaid took to his Facebook page with a new complaint, inveighing against the United Arab Emirates, which had recently branded the Muslim Brotherhood movements as terrorist groups. Among his accusations: that the Emirates plays the role of the “American cop in the region,” “supports coups” and is a “cancer in the body of the Arab world.”
Within days, he was behind bars, accused under a recently strengthened antiterrorism law for “acts harmful to the country’s relations with foreign countries.” Last week he lost an appeal for bail, and he is now awaiting trial and a possible sentence of at least two and a half years in prison.
The reason for the government’s sudden shift, analysts say, was that he crossed a political line by lashing out at the Emirates, an important ally of Jordan’s and one of several countries in the region, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, that are on a campaign to wipe out the Brotherhood.
At least for the moment, analysts do not expect Jordan to join the Egyptians and the Saudis in cracking down hard on the Brotherhood, which has long operated legally in Jordan, where it has its own political party.
Instead, they see the detention of Mr. Bani Rushaid, and the earlier detention of a lower-level Brotherhood official, as a warning that the monarchy’s patience will extend only so far. (The other official was taken into custody after harshly criticizing Jordanian authorities for what he suggested was a tepid response to Israel’s latest offensive in Gaza.)
“Bani Rushaid’s latest criticism of the Emirates was an opportunity for authorities to finally detain the most important figure inside the Muslim Brotherhood and send the group a message to keep their mouth shut,” said Marwan Shehadeh, a political analyst in Amman.
The detentions shocked many in the country, where the Brotherhood has mainly been spared the roundups that were common in Egypt before the Arab Spring and are again now that the generals have wrested back control from that country’s branch of the Brotherhood.
More here. H/T: Fjordman