Jordan Marks King Hussein’s Return
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ In the bustling, narrow streets of downtown Amman, shopkeepers offered sweets and spiced black coffee to passersby and a folk troupe twirled swords and played bagpipes.
Jordanians began celebrating the return of King Hussein from cancer treatment in the United States long before he arrived. He is expected to return today.
Some Jordanians braved rain Monday to dance in public parks where loudspeakers blared out ``Hashmi, Hashmi,″ a popular Jordanian song honoring King Hussein’s descent from Hashem, the grandfather of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.
``I am happy for the king’s recovery and grateful to God that he will bring him back safe,″ said Mohammed Oran, a college sophomore, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Hussein’s picture.
Government officials say Hussein, 63, has fully recovered following six months of treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He has spent the past two weeks recuperating in Britain.
Officials say the king will be piloting his own jet as he arrives today at Amman’s airport.
Hundreds of dignitaries will join more than a million people _ a third of Jordan’s population _ in the nationwide festivities, according to the official welcoming committee.
The celebrations will include air shows, military parades, folk dancing and fireworks.
In Amman’s exclusive suburbs, buildings are adorned with Hussein pictures, huge Jordanian flags and strings of flashing lights.
``Your return home is like the return of the soul to the body,″ beamed one banner in the capital.
Bedouin leaders have pitched their tents in some streets and brought in camels and sheep to slaughter in the traditional sacrificial gesture of thanksgiving.
Talk shows on the radio and television have been swamped with calls from Jordanians declaring allegiance to the king.
``Whatever we do, it will not be enough to express our love and respect to the king, who is a father to all Jordanians,″ housewife Mayson Khadra said.