Jordan Sentences Muslim Brotherhood Leader to Prison for Criticism of UAE

AP Photo/Raad Adayleh
AP Photo/Raad Adayleh

The deputy chief of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was sentenced to 18 months behind bars for criticizing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Facebook.

A Jordanian security court with jurisdiction over the country’s internal and external threats found the Brotherhood leader, Zaki Bani Rushaid, guilty on Sunday of “acts harmful to the country’s relations with a friendly nation,” explains The New York Times.

In a November 17 post on his Facebook page, Mr. Bani Rushaid accused the the UAE of playing “American cop in the region,” supporting coups, and being “a cancer in the body of the Arab world.”

Jordan considers the UAE an important ally. The UAE and several other Arab nations, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, “have engaged in a campaign to wipe out the Brotherhood,” notes The Times.

Mr. Bani Rushaid’s arrest was “politically motivated and demonstrates a deliberate escalation by the state against the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan,” the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement, adding, “It is a blow to freedom of speech and the rights of citizens.”

The Muslim Brotherhood leader plans to appeal his sentence.

In Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood is the main opposition party, points out The Times, “but unlike Egypt, Jordan has long tolerated the organization’s presence.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where the group won the presidency in 2012 before President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in protests and a military coup the following year.

The UAE uses Jordan to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL). Both countries are part of the U.S.-led international bombing campaign against the jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.

Saudi Arabia is also part of the U.S.-led coalition.

Reportedly, Egypt began launching airstrikes against ISIS targets in neighboring Libya on Monday in response to the group’s brutal murder of 21 Egyptian Christians.