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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 18:01 GMT
Jordan calls for war on extremism
Maaruf al-Bakhit
The King wants Maaruf al-Bakhit to implement long-awaited reforms
King Abdullah of Jordan has called for a relentless war on Muslim extremists in the wake of the suicide bombings in Amman earlier this month.

He said the attacks increased Jordan's determination to stick to its reform and democratisation process.

The king made the statement in a letter to newly-appointed Prime Minister Maaruf al-Bakhit.

Outgoing PM Adnan Badran was criticised for failing to implement an agenda of political and economic reforms.

Confrontation

King Abdullah said Jordan's reforms were "irreversible" and the suicide attacks would not halt them.

"At the same time, it reaffirms our need to adopt a comprehensive strategy to confront the Takfiri culture," he said.

Takfiris believe contemporary Muslim society has reverted to a state of unbelief (kufr) and thus consider legitimate both rebellion against the state and acts of violence against Muslim citizens.

The king wants Mr Bakhit to "not only deal with the security dimension, but also the ideological, cultural and political spheres to confront those who chose the path of destruction and sabotage to reach their goals".

He also called for a "relentless war on all the Takfiri schools, which embrace extremism, backwardness, isolation and darkness and are fed on the ignorance and naivety of simple people."

King Abdullah of Jordan
The Amman attacks have put King Abdullah's rule in the spotlight
He said fatwas, or religious decrees, issued by Takfiri schools constituted a threat to Jordan's society and its interests.

On Wednesday, a Brussels-based think tank, the International Crisis Group (ICG), said that reform was vital if Jordan wanted to prevent further attacks.

"To minimise the risk of future terror attacks that feed on simmering public dissatisfaction, Jordan should implement long-promised political reforms," it said.

Old guard

The BBC's correspondent in Amman, Jon Leyne, says informed sources believe the new prime minister will be the right person to balance the need for more security with such reforms.

Mr Bakhit, 58, was Jordan's ambassador to Israel until two weeks ago, when he was appointed national security adviser in a shake-up that officials said was planned and not linked to the Amman blasts.

He is a retired army major-general who was head of a state committee that oversaw the implementation of the peace treaty that Jordan signed with Israel in 1994.

Mr Bakhit also served as ambassador to Turkey for three years.

He has a doctorate in political science and taught the subject at a university for army and police recruits in southern Jordan.

Correspondents say King Abdullah's recent appointments signal that he intends to give influence back to respected figures from the Jordanian military and to move it away from young, liberal reformers tarnished by perceptions of corruption.



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