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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 15:54 GMT
Jordan police stop trades unionists prayers

Police in Jordan have prevented a group of Islamist trade unionists from holding an open air meeting in the capital, Amman, to pray for rain.

The authorities said they were concerned for public safety, but the unions said the deployment of riot police was akin to martial law and represented a flagrant violation of public freedoms.

The unionists went on to a nearby Fayha'a mosque where one cleric, Hamman Saeed, blamed the drought on God's anger over the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.

Correspondents say the authorities feared that the intended prayer meeting could have developed into a rally in support of jailed members of the radical Islamist group, Hamas.

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