Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا abouna.org
"And let us not ignore the alarm bells ringing around us." With these resounding words His Majesty King Abdullah II concluded his historic address at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, as he warned of numerous ringing bells that exude their dangers in today's world. Yet, at the end of his address he focused on a ringing bell ignored by many circles, warned against it, and called for intensified efforts to confront it, namely the threat aimed at the Christian identity in this region.
His Majesty the King did not focus merely on the Christians of Jerusalem, but he referred in his address to Christianity in the entire region, while he is fully aware that the past 10 years have never been easy for Christianity in the East. The greatest threat to this presence and fabric emerged through the challenges imposed by terrorist organization ISIS, at a time we still see, for example, many Iraqi families that have been forcibly displaced and hosted in Jordan. Yet, they leave in due time in large numbers to the vast and farthest parts of the world. Likewise, His Majesty is aware that the alarm bell has sounded in Syria, where thousands of families have been forcibly displaced due to the war, as well as due to the imposed siege and poverty. The alarm bell also sounds in Lebanon as a result of the political stalemate and the consequent deteriorating economic conditions. In terms of numbers, we can say that during the past decade, more than two million Christians have been forcibly displaced from Arab countries and migrated to far destinations.
His Majesty the King has always warned against the danger lurking to Christianity in the Arab region, because he is fully aware that the Middle East is characterized by plurality, so that plurality and the right to diversity can be respected. But the modern era has regrettably been bad while eliminating this plurality. Jordan was aware of the dangers that would instill during the past decade, and was the first to call for the preservation of Arab identity by calling for an important international conference in Amman, held ten years ago under his patronage, titled: "The Challenges Facing Arab Christians" during which he said, " We also believe that the protection of the rights of Christians is a duty rather than a favor. (September 3, 2013)
Ten years later, and in the wake of the tragedies that have befallen, His Majesty stands at the podium of the United Nations, and says, I wish we had listened carefully to the alarm bell that was ringing and which we warned against. But the world did not listen, and the terrorist groups and those with closed mentalities have wreaked havoc in the countries of the East. The loss was truly mammoth with regards to Christians, as this was rightly as well aimed at the East that has gradually been stripped of its Christians.
However, His Majesty the King's words were specifically addressed to Christianity in noble Jerusalem which is the destination and pilgrimage site for billions of people. He said that hatred and division cannot dwell in the city of peace. Therefore, the defence of Christianity and Christians in the Holy City was spelled out by a “Muslim leader,” as he referred to himself, in order to show the world that this defence is not only a Christian duty, but rather the duty of every Muslim. May all the leaders of the Arab world emulate this brave king by making addresses from the most supreme pulpit in the world, and say: "Christianity must be preserved in the Arab region as well as in Jerusalem."
We are fully aware that the occupation has caused the migration and the forcible displacement of many Arab families from Jerusalem, including the Christians where a small group of them still remains. But this category is able to fulfill the Christian and civilized mission. They are never observers of their people's issues, for whatever takes place in Palestine is jointly confronted by Christians and Muslims. But they need support and encouragement to remain steadfast, not only by the custodian of the sanctuaries, namely His Majesty the King par excellence, but also by their brethren in the Arab countries fraternal of Jordan.
Thank you, Your Majesty, in the name of all the honorable, and in the name of all Christians in the Arab region, in the Holy Land, and in Jordan, because you are the only resonating voice that still defends the Christian identity in the region, and through it, the image of the genuine East where everyone is respectful of one’s brethren. Consequently, with the absence of one of them there will be no room to talk about dialogue in the Middle East, and the destruction will be not only inflict the absent one, but rather the remaining brethren who will miss their brother and the civilized partner.
Thank you, Your Majesty.