Thousands of Jordanians Protest Rising Costs of Food, Fuel

Demonstrations come amid riots in Algeria and Tunisia over food prices that hit a record high in December.

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More than 5,000 Jordanians took to the streets across the country on Friday to protest rising prices for fuel and foodstuffs and demand the prime minister's ouster.

University students, leftists and labor activists staged rallies in five cities - Amman, Irbid, Karak, Salt and Maan - waving Jordanian flags, toting placards and chanting for Prime Minister Samir Rifai to step down.

Women hold signs, with bread taped on them, demonstrate against the government in Amman, January 14, 2011.Credit: Reuters

"Prices, particularly gasoline and food, are getting out of hand," said Buthaina Iftial, a 24-year-old civil servant protesting in downtown Amman. "We're becoming poorer every day," she said, holding a poster with a piece of Arabic flatbread attached.

Police and plainclothes officers formed rings around the demonstrators to contain the protests. There were no reports of arrests or violence.

With deadly economic riots rocking Tunisia and Algeria, Jordan slashed prices and taxes on some foods and fuels on the orders of King Abdullah II earlier this week to help ease the burden on the poor.

Jordan's powerful Muslim Brotherhood opposition did not take part in Friday's demonstrations. It has called the government's measures insufficient, but has said it will stage a sit-in in front of parliament Sunday to voice its criticism.

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