Amman, Jordan — February 6, 2015
On Monday, ISIS released a video of a captured Jordanian pilot being brutally murdered. Outrage grew in the small country during the week, until Amman’s main Imam called for protests following the Friday prayers at noon.
King Abdallah, a fighter pilot and former head of Jordanian special forces (which probably had nothing to do with family connections) rallied the country, quoting Unforgiven in his calls for vengeance. The average Jordanian has no clue how perverted and awesome it is that he is quoting Clint Eastwood. The queen herself vowed to attend the protests, which sounds all cool and solidarity-like until you realize we’re already in the capital. The whole country put aside political, nationalistic, and religious differences to unite in outrage at ISIS’ barbarism.
I learned of the upcoming protests while serving breakfast to a Russian couple who work for state media. They discovered this while combing twitter at work the day before and immediately bought tickets for Amman. (Note to self: get a job with Russian state media)
Much of Amman began gathering at the Al-Hussein Mosque as early as 9:00 AM, draped in banners and Jordanian flags.
Flyers and posters remembering the pilot were everywhere.
The crowd swelled for the next three hours. The police were keeping things relatively calm as everyone gathered, with someone bringing in a pallet of refrigerator boxes to be used as prayer mats. A small crowd converged and started ripping the boxes into sections and handing them out to bystanders.
As soon as the prayers started, the crowd of thousands instantly went silent and formed a 300-meter (1000 foot) line in the street, facing the mosque. At this point I left the street and went into a building overlooking the mosque. I’m not Muslim or Jordanian and refuse to invade their ceremony as a tourist.
Excuse the camera clicks and the thumb, I was jostling with CBS over my spot in the window overlooking the street.
After 30 minutes, the imam finished his prayers and passionate speech. The crowd then came alive, chanting by the thousands and heading downtown.