About 350 Salafist used clubs and swords to beat and stab police and
pro-regime demonstrators in Zarqa.
"Such manifestations of wielding swords, clubs and sharp objects in the
street and intimidating people, will never recur or go unpunished,
regardless of the price," Bakhit said.
The kingdom has long banned the Salafists, whose philosophy resembles
that of Al Qaida. But, this year, the movement emerged as a powerful element in
the Islamist-led anti-government campaign in Jordan.
"One day all the Arab world will be ours," Salafist leader Abd Shehada
Al Tahawi said.
Witnesses said the violence began when pro-regime supporters gathered
near the Salafist rally outside a Zarqa mosque. When the royalists began to
march toward the Salafists with a portrait of King Abdullah, the Salafists
responded with sticks and fists. Later, police intervened and persuaded the
pro-regime supporters to move away.
"Down down with America, down with democracy," the Salafists
The Salafists have called for the imposition of Islamic law in Jordan as
well as the release of an estimated 300 of its members. Salafist leaders also
called for the severing of diplomatic and military relations with Israel and
the United States.
"We will have Islamic law rule in Jordan," Al Tahawi said. "It's only a
matter of time, and all of America and Israel's efforts will go away."
Within hours of the clash, security forces arrested 70 Salafist figures,
including Al Tahawi. Bakhit said authorities would track and arrest the
Salafists who assaulted security forces and other demonstrators.
"What was done by the followers of a misled group of dark blasphemous
thought has nothing to do with Islam, its principle and message," Bakhit
said on April 16. "Their slogans are not part of calls for political reform,
rather of violence, breaking the law and offending all without exception."