World Interfaith Harmony Week kicks off

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Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Tuesday led a ceremony to launch the World Interfaith Harmony Week organised by the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs at the King Abdullah I Mosque.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the U.N. General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by His Majesty King Abdullah II. Less than a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the U.N. and henceforth, the first week of February is to be observed as the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

In his opening remarks, Awqaf Minister Hayel Dawood noted that King Abdullah had launched three initiatives in six years. The first was the 2004 Amman Message, which was directed towards the Muslims to identify them with the rules of their faith and their relationship with others.

The second, Common Word, was announced in 2007 to urge the Muslims and others to come together and enhance common denominators. The third initiative was the 2010 World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Those initiatives, he said, were not only political messages, but expressions of the reality of Islam which accepts other faiths, and a reaffirmation of the Islamic values, but not a response to pressures of the actual situation.

Dawood said that in some countries and at certain times, houses of worship had become pulpits for hatred, killing and violence instead of platforms for promoting love, cooperation, kindness, piety and knowing the others, which required a review of their message and priorities.

For the ministry, he said, the royal initiatives had set an approach that "we commit (ourselves) to and follow in its steps as we deem them an advanced and civilized understanding of this religion." For that reason, he added, "we urged preachers and imams to study them and promulgate those concepts among the people for being a true expression of our faith and the holy book." He said that ever since the emergence of the Jordanian state, its people had been living in a climate of interfaith harmony, without seeing any religious or sectarian bigotry, "thanks to our Hashemite leadership that comes up with such initiatives." The Director of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Centre, Father Nabil Haddad, said the Hashemite leadership had launched leading initiatives to propagate moderation and create a positive atmosphere to help formulate faith-based ethical, human and social criteria to forge a relationship among adherents of various religions.

He said the state had been alarmed by incitements to religious hatred and manifestations of extremism that emerged in the region and the world over the past two decades.