By Rula Samain/ The Jordan Times
Arab governments and societies with their different components have
the responsibility to end forced Christian immigration and work to bring
the displaced back to their countries, panellists have said.
At a conference on the impact of the Arab Spring on the Christian
population in the region, organised by Al Quds Centre for Political
Studies (QCPS), participants urged Christians to remain in their
homelands and not allow any party to terrorise them.
Oraib Rantawi, QCPS director, told The Jordan Times Saturday on the
sidelines of the two-day event that Arab Christians are encountering
unprecedented dangers that have forced them to migrate. These include
mass killings and forceful displacement, adding that such crimes
constitute blatant violations to all basic human rights.
The conference, held in cooperation with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
(KAS), attracted the participation of religious leaders, politicians,
MPs and human right activists from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and
Archbishop Youssef Tuma, head of the Chaldean Archbishopic of Kirkuk
told the audience that Arab Christians should not listen to the voices
of fear, adding that such a phenomenon is not new since other nations in
different times have passed through similar difficulties.
He added that otherwise, extremists will dominate and create ghettos
for Christians in certain cities or areas, among other consequences of
“Christians are the salt of earth and thus we should be everywhere to enrich the culture we live in,” he said.
Archbishop Tuma emphasised that the different denominations of
Christianity are united, adding that the Church believes in cultural
diversity and that God is one for all, Muslims and Christians, who
should join ranks to fight back against radicalism.
Father Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and
Media, presented a paper on the challenges and problems facing
Christians in Jordan.
He noted that although Jordan is the only safe and stable country in
the Middle East, religious extremism has been on the rise. He said
extremists target not only Christians, but humanity in general.
Father Bader called for urgent changes in the school curricula, citing “historical shortcomings”.
“Christians’ history as key contributors to region’s civilisations,
culture, economy and intellectual achievements is not mentioned at all
in school syllabi, a matter which alienates Arab Christians from their
history and land,” Father Bader said, urging the Ministry of Education
to implement a decision in 1997 to teach about Christian religion in
Rantawi said that after analysing the challenges facing Arab
Christians, participants agreed on the Amman Declaration, which he
defined as a road map for a better future for Christians in the Arab
He also added that participants expressed their condemnation of a
trend to treat Arab Christians as an extension of Western culture or as
George Ishaq, a politician and activist from Egypt, said that he is
optimistic about Egypt’s future and stressed the importance of
protecting religious freedom through legislation.
Sameh Ebeid, former member of the Egyptian parliament, told The
Jordan Times that the word “minority” or similar is irrelevant if the
talk is about a truly civil society not based on religious or ethnic
Presenting the European point of view, Niels Vinding, a professor at
the University of Copenhagen, presented a paper on Europe’s
responsibility in strengthening and maintaining the presence of
Christians in the Middle East.
He said that the West is partly blamed for Middle East violence,
especially in Iraq and Syria, due to centuries-old Western polices
related to the region, let alone that the West has become an exporter of
European Muslim youths who join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
He added that human society in general shares a responsibility of supporting those in need in the Middle East, including Christians.
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