King Abdullah II was met by either tossed bottles and stones or a warm welcome on a visit to Jordan's south today, according to conflicting reports from government officials. A security official said a crowd of youths flung objects at the monarch's motorcade in two incidents in the town of Tafila, just a day after Abdullah bowed to popular demands for an elected prime minister. The king was unharmed, said the unnamed security official. But government spokesman Taher Edwan later denied the report.
"This news is totally baseless," he said. "There was no attack whatsoever with empty bottles and stones. What happened is that a group of young Jordanians thronged the monarch's motorcade to shake hands with him." He said when police "pushed them away, there was a lot of shoving." A Royal Palace official who accompanied Abdullah gave a similar account: "It was a gesture of welcome, not an attack." It wasn't immediately possible to reconcile the two versions, and further details of any attack were not immediately available. As violence has rocked other authoritarian countries across the Arab world, it has been rare in Jordan, where pro-democracy protests in recent months have generally been confined to relatively small demonstrations.