Conference addresses challenges facing Arab Christians

Conference addresses challenges facing Arab Christians


[The following article originally appeared in The Jordan Times.]

HRH Prince Ghazi, King’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy, said Tuesday that Arab Christians in parts of the region have become targets for intolerance, reiterating Jordan’s rejection of such behaviour.

“We in Jordan feel, for the first time in hundreds of years, that Arab Christians have become targeted in some countries,” the prince said at the opening of a conference on “The Challenges Facing Arab Christians”, which he inaugurated on behalf of His Majesty King Abdullah.

“Arab Christians are suffering not only because of the blind and deaf sedition that everyone has suffered from in certain Arab countries since the beginning of what is incorrectly called the Arab Spring, but also merely because they are Christians,” the prince said in his opening address at the two-day conference, which attracted heads of churches from the Middle East and the world.

“First, we reject this categorically and completely. We reject it according to our sacred laws, as Muslims before God. Second, we reject it morally, as Arabs and as fellow tribesmen. Third, we reject it emotionally as neighbours and dear friends,” he said.

Prince Ghazi stressed that Arab Muslims and Christians have formed an indivisible society over the past 1,300 years and that the Arab Christians have played a great role on all levels and fields in the building of Arab and Muslim countries and in defending them against all aggression.

Prince Ghazi emphasised that Arab Christians have always been supportive of Arab Muslims when they are faced with foreign invasion.

“Christians were in this region before Muslims. They are not strangers, nor colonialists, nor foreigners. They are the natives of these lands and Arabs, just as Muslims are,” the prince stressed.

“Now that they [Arab Christians] have become oppressed in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, their churches are burned and their priests, monks and nuns are kidnapped and sometimes killed, yet they do not carry arms to defend themselves,” said the prince.

Highlighting the democracy that the countries in the region should be seeking, the prince added: “The democracy that we should be seeking is not to reach power through the ballot box so that a majority or a plurality can suppress a minority. This is dictatorship of the majority, demagoguery and injustice.”

Such kind of democracy entrenches division and is the beginning of civil sectarian and denominational wars and sedition, the prince said.

True democracy consists of democratic culture, the separation of powers and checks and balances, consensus among all segments of society on a constitution and inalienable human rights for all citizens, until mutual agreement is met or agreed to by 90 per cent, said Prince Ghazi.

He added that the state in Islam is not founded on majoritarian rule but on consensus. The two basic pillars of the political Islam are Bayah (oath of allegiance to a leader) and Shura (consultation) and both are built on collective agreement.

According to organisers, the gathering aims to discuss challenges facing Arab Christians and document and identify ways to address them in order to preserve the Christians’ important role.

Conferees will also discuss ways to promote their role and presence as an essential and integral part of the Middle East’s fabric, culture and history.

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