Kingdom braces for World Interfaith Harmony Week

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AMMAN — Jordan will next week launch activities to mark the World Interfaith Harmony Week, an initiative the Kingdom launched in 2010 that was adopted by the UN.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour will attend next Tuesday a ceremony marking the occasion, organised by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.

Christian religious leaders, joined by Muslim scholars, already started activities with a ceremony held at a church in Amman.

The occasion is observed during the first week of February to share religious teachings about tolerance to correct misconceptions among followers of different faiths.

Awqaf Minister Hayel Dawood was quoted in a statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, as stressing the importance of the occasion as a reminder to the world of the values of tolerance, harmony and peace that are shared by all the Abrahamic faiths.

In October 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted the World Interfaith Harmony Week initiative, proposed by His Majesty King Abdullah.

During Wednesday’s event, speakers said Jordan portrays a unique case worldwide as a model of coexistence between Muslims and Christians, a “reality Jordanians live and experience every day”.

Director of the Catholic Centre for Media and Research Father Rifat Bader said: “Christians and Muslims in Jordan share the freedom of worship, build mosques and churches, live in harmony and work hand-in-hand with the country’s leaders for Jordan’s prosperity.”

Bader said that Jordan was the first among Arab countries to initiate and host the interfaith dialogue events involving Muslims and Christians.

He told The Jordan Times that after Pope Paul VI’s visit to Jordan in 1964, the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue was created in the Vatican City and directed by Khalid Akasheh, a Jordanian priest originally from Karak Governorate.

“This council discusses the worldwide issues concerning religions and coexistence. It encourages people of different faiths to speak and make their case clear, then to listen and accept others’ opinions,” said Bader. The event, which attracted the participation of Christians from different faiths and Muslims, took place at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in cooperation with the Catholic Centre for Media.

Among the speakers was Professor Amer Al Hafy from the Islamic Centre for Studies at Al al Bayt University, who said that the fraternal relations between Muslims and Christians, and among all segments of society are the reason behind Jordan’s stability, adding that both the Holy Bible and Holy Koran contain many verses that discuss love and compassion between brothers in humanity regardless of religion.

Another Muslim speaker was from Karak Governorate. An Islamic culture teacher at the Latin Patriarch School, Laila Habashneh, shared experiences of coexistence that are traditions and norm in her area, where followers of both faiths have lived in harmony for centuries.

Participants shared with the audience more personal stories of coexistence.