AMMAN, Jordan, June 5 (UPI) -- Eight professors of Islamic studies who refused to label human bomb attacks as suicide operations have been fired from public universities following orders from security authorities, Muslim Brotherhood sources said Wednesday.
The sources, who insisted on anonymity, said five professors from the University of Jordan in Amman, two from Muta University in Maan in southern Jordan, and one from Yarmouk University in the northern city of Irbid were "arbitrarily dismissed" over a period of two weeks.
Officials at the three universities confirmed the professors' "resignations," but said they were "an internal university issue."
A statement from the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the country's most powerful Islamist groups, criticized the move, saying it was made to please the United States "in its fight against terrorism."
Government officials contacted by United Press International said the decision was "purely administrative."
Brotherhood sources quoted the professors as saying university officials told them "they have to either resign or be dismissed upon security orders."
Most of those dismissed were graduates and former professors of sharia, or Islamic law, in Saudi Arabia. They "refused to amend the ideology curricula to describe the martyr operations as suicide bombings," the Brotherhood sources said.
A series of Palestinian suicide bombers have rocked Israel targets in recent months. Palestinians form a significant proportion of the Jordanian population.
The Muslim Brotherhood weekly, As Sabeel, Wednesday quoted Ali Utoum, the professor of sharia fired from Yarmouk University, as saying the decision is "a political one aimed at my Islamic affiliations and against the Islamic movement of which I am honored to be a part."
Ahmad Awaisheh, among the five dismissed from the University of Jordan, told reporters "if the intention is to punish us for our positions in this manner, it is not going to change my stance."
A security official told UPI though he was unaware of the dismissals, "some of these Islamic sharia professors ... tend to instigate their students toward subversion against the security of this country."
Islamists have been the most outspoken critics of the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty, and have led massive anti-Israeli demonstrations in the kingdom since the eruption of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000.