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Middle East

Jordan: King Abdullah II cancels UK trip after protests


King Abdullah II has cancelled his trip to London scheduled for next week, after thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman yesterday calling for his fall on the fourth day of unrest sparked by rising fuel prices.

There had been anxiety over the visit due to the violence in Gaza, as his wife, Queen Rania, is Palestinian. Smaller groups of protesters have made rare calls against the monarch before. But the crowd in the capital of about 2,500, chanting slogans reminiscent of last year's Arab Spring uprisings, was the largest yet to seek the overthrow of the regime.

Similar rallies turned unusually violent earlier this week, with one person killed and 75 others, including 58 policemen, injured.

The protesters, angered by a sharp increase in fuel and gas prices, were led by activists that included the secular Hirak Shebabi youth movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various nationalist and left-wing groups.

Turnout yesterday was smaller than recently, however, with crowds varying from about 150 in the southern town of Tafila to 3,000 in the northern city of Irbid.

Government officials have accused the Muslim Brotherhood of inciting the unrest to score political points ahead of parliamentary elections in January.