Jordan bans social media chatter on royal family drama as king tries to draw line under crisis

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The saga began over the weekend, when Jordanian authorities detained around 15 people, including a high-profile political figure and at least one member of the royal family. A popular former crown prince, Hamzah bin Al Hussein, publicly criticized Jordan’s leadership in a video sent to the media, and was publicly banned from political activities.
The prince, who is the half-brother of King Abdullah, claimed to have been have been placed under effective house arrest.
Authorities said they had foiled a plot in which Hamzah was working in collusion with unnamed foreign entities to “destabilize” Jordan. The prince denied the claims and dismissed the arrest sweep as a bid to silence growing criticism of government corruption.
On Tuesday, the Jordanian government moved to impose a gag order around Hamzah’s case.
Jordan's royal family drama sends shudders around the region. Here's what we knowJordan's royal family drama sends shudders around the region. Here's what we know
“To protect the secrecy of the investigations that security apparatuses are carrying out, and which are connected to the His Royal Highness Prince Hamzah bin Al Hussein and others, publication of anything related to (the case) has been banned at this stage of the investigation,” the state-owned Jordan News Agency reported, citing the general prosecutor Hassan al-Abdalat.
Images and videos related to the case have also been banned, the report added.
On Monday night, King Abdullah dispatched his uncle, Prince Hassan bin Talal, who also served as crown prince for over 30 years, to “mediate” the dispute with the 41-year-old Prince Hamzah.
Prince Hamzah then signed a letter pledging allegiance to the king in an apparent effort to put an end to a crisis which has plunged the country into uncertainty.
Since the weekend, social media has been awash with heated debates that pitted people with avatars of the king against those with images of the prince. Hamzah enjoys popular support, and many openly opposed his alleged detainment.
King Abdullah (L) and then-Crown Prince Hamzah pictured at at Amman airport in August 2000. King Abdullah (L) and then-Crown Prince Hamzah pictured at at Amman airport in August 2000.
In video recordings released on Saturday night, Prince Hamzah chastized the country’s leadership for its handling of Jordan’s growing economic problems and social unrest.
Prince Hamzah was crown prince for five years after his father, King Hussein, died in 1999. In 2004, King Abdullah stripped him of his title as heir apparent, naming his son Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, who was a teenager at the time, as crown prince four years later.
Hamzah was widely believed to be the favorite son of King Hussein, who many in Jordan continue to idolize, and bears an uncanny resemblance to the late monarch. He enjoys widespread support from Jordanian tribes, which form the backbone of the country’s monarchy.

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