The deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Zaki Bani Rushaid, sentenced on Sunday to 18 months in prison for "acts harmful to the country's relations with a friendly nation," the New York Times reports. In November, Bani Rushaid had posted a message critical of the United Arab Emirates, one of Jordan's regional allies, to his personal Facebook page.
Bani Rushaid was found guilty by the state security court, the Times reports. Bani Rushaid had written that the Emirates functions as "the American cop in the region, supports coups and is a cancer in the body of the Arab world."
Jordan is a monarchy; the Muslim Brotherhood is the state's main opposition party. Reuters reports that the movement—which has "ideological ties" with the organization of the same name in Egypt, but is not directly affiliated—enjoys support among "among urban Palestinians and in camps populated by refugees who have fled successive Arab-Israeli wars since 1948."
According to the Times, in 2011 the Emirates promised Jordan more than a billion dollars in grants over five years. In the first half of 2014, the Emirates sent more than $70 million in aid to Jordan to assist with care for Syrian refugees.
Just before Bani Rushaid's arrest in November, the Emirates had designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. In December, the Times reported, Jordan's government spokesman, Mohammad Momani, denied that the arrest came as a result of Jordan's relationship with the Emirates.
Sale Armouti, Bani Rushaid's lead counsel, characterized the court's verdict as one intended to "twist the arms of the Islamist movement," Reuters reports. "It's the death of freedom of speech and a sword that hangs over anyone who dares express his personal view," Armouti said.
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