King Abdullah, speaking at a two-day conference on the plight of Middle East
Christians, declared that it is a Muslim’s “duty” to protect Christians.
The two-day conference in Amman on “The Challenges Facing Arab Christians” brought together more than 70 high-ranking representatives of Middle Eastern churches. The conference was organized by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, Chief Advisor for Religious and Cultural Affairs, who has a long history of interfaith work.
In his speech to the conference, Jordan’s King Abdullah said that protecting the rights of Middle East Christians “is a duty rather than a favor” because “Arab Christians have had a key role in building the Arab society and in the defense of our nation,” the Jordan Times reported.
“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,” Prince Ghazi said in his remarks to the conference, according to the Jordan Times.
The conference also focused on the rapid emigration of Christians from the region. Today, nearly every Christian community in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel’s small Christian community, is shrinking.
“We have many challenges, we have many problems. We are really afraid, afraid for the present and for the future. ... A result of this fear is the emigration of many Christians from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan,” Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, told Vatican Radio.
follows a visit to the Vatican last week by King Abdullah and Queen Rania of
Jordan, who both met with Pope Francis.