King Abdullah II: protecting the rights of Christians “is not a matter of courtesy, but a duty”

King Abdullah II of Jordan
(CNA) King Abdullah II of Jordan recently reaffirmed the position of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, namely, to safeguard the Christian presence in the Holy Land. 

Speaking at a two day conference about challenges that face Arab Christians, Abdullah said that protecting the rights of Christians “is not a matter of courtesy, but a duty”. This, he said, was in part because “Arab Christians have had a key role in building the Arab society and in the defense of our nation”.

It is not just in Jordan, however, that Christian rights are to be protected.  King Abdullah also said, “[We] have the duty to defend the Arab identity of Jerusalem, and protect its Islamic and Christian Holy Places”.  

He encouraged Muslims and Christians working together  on a “unifying code of conduct” primarily because isolation between the followers of different religions can “undermine social building”.  What did he mean by that?  “Arab Christians” recognized King Abdullah “are able to understand more than anyone else Islam and its true values ” and therefore can defend Islam from the prejudices spread by those who “ignore the essence of this faith, which preaches tolerance and moderation and rejects extremism and isolationism”.

As we pray for peace in Syria, let us not forget to pray for peace throughout the entire Middle East, especially in the Holy Land.