(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordanian King Abdullah II told the European Parliament that coexistence and mutual respect between Muslims and Christians is crucial for defense against religious extremism, while in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
While speaking of the global dangers of extremism and fight against both terrorism and Islamophobia, Abdullah also brought up the recent attacks against Christians perpetrated by the Islamic State.
“I am outraged and grieved by the recent attacks in some countries against Christian and minority communities. This is an offense against humanity as well as Islam. Arab Christians are an integral part of our region’s past, present and future” Abdullah said.
In February, 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by the Islamic State in Libya, and most recently over 200 Christians were abducted by members of the Islamic State in Syria. In contrast, Christians in Jordan are subject to little hardship, and because of this, many Christians have taken refuge in Jordan as they flee the Islamic State.
“Jordan is a Muslim country, with a deeply-rooted Christian community," the Jordan King told Parliament. "Together, the Jordanian people make up an indivisible society, friends and partners in building our country.”
Today Jordan has 172,000 Christians living within it’s borders among the 7.6 million Muslim-majority population. Jordan’s Christians have dwindled from nearly 20% of the population in 1930 to about 5% they make up today.
The main cause of this change in population is the migrations of Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrians fleeing extremism in their home countries, in addition to higher birth rates among Muslim families.
The Jordanian King spoke of how Muslims have a critical role in global understanding. and tolerance, stating that Islam upholds equal human dignity of every person and that extremists who deny these truths are outnumbered by 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.
“More than a thousand years before the Geneva Conventions, Muslim soldiers were ordered not to kill a child, a woman or an old person, not to destroy a tree, not to harm a priest, not to destroy a church,” Abdullah said. “These are the same values of Islam we were taught in school as children: not to destroy or desecrate a place where God is worshiped, not a mosque, not a church, not a synagogue.”
Abdullah concluded by calling on European leaders to help Middle Eastern countries create peace and religious tolerance in the region.
“Our regions, our people, can find no better partners and neighbors than each other. History, geography and future bind us. Let no one separate us, Abdullah said. " Together, we can create pillars of mutual respect that will support the common good for generations to come.”
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