They accused the shoppers of being "atheists," which was enough to declare them fair game to be physically attacked. "Islamists attack Jordan police with swords, daggers," by Musa Hattar for AFP, April 15:
AMMAN — Islamist protesters armed with swords, daggers and clubs attacked police in the city of Zarqa on Friday, wounding 51 of them, as 32 more suffered from tear gas inhalation, Jordan's police chief said.
Lieutenant General Hussein Majali told a news conference that "51 policemen, including senior officers, were stabbed with knives, beaten with bats or hit with sharp tools, while 32 other policemen were treated for tear gas inhalation."
He said "eight civilians were also hurt when police fired tear gas and tried to stop Islamist Salafist demonstrators from attacking shoppers in Zarqa," adding that 17 protesters were arrested and that police are searching for more.
"It was clear that the demonstrators had plans to clash with police. They carried swords and daggers and were provocative, seeking to drag police into a bloody confrontation."
Earlier, police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Khatib told AFP six officers stabbed in the clashes were "in serious condition."
He said police "had to fire tear gas after a group of Islamist Salafists attacked some citizens... accusing them of being atheists."
The Salafists have been demonstrating for several weeks to demand the release of 90 Islamist prisoners, including Abu Mohammed al-Maqdessi, the one-time mentor of slain Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.