BBC’s debate on Christians in the Middle East

The BBC website is asking Christians in the Middle East to talk about how their faith affects their way of life. I wonder what brought this up? Was this debate triggered by the latest events in Alexandria, I wonder?

I also noticed that the BBC failed to mention Jordan among the Middle Eastern countries that have a Christian population.

My opinion? I will reiterate what I said before: I am a firm believer that Jordan is indeed a perfect model of Muslim-Christian coexistence. In spite of what many might see as a current global clash of religions, Jordan remains intact and its people — regardless of their beliefs — continue to live peacefully and amicably, providing a prime example of tolerance and acceptance.

24 thoughts on “BBC’s debate on Christians in the Middle East”

  1. Amman is a good example, I wouldn’t call it perfect as there are a lot of social seggregations. Not to instigate anger/arguments (because thats the last thing we need) but I found myself caught in the irony of being discriminated against in Jordan by some ‘elite’ christian families. I guess irony is not a proper word to use in that instance but all I am pointing out to is that discriminations occur in both directions; the majority believes it is right because, by definition, it is the majority and the minority wants to protect its seemingly fading tradition/religion/welath…
    I am not complaining, it is only normal for that to happen.
    Natasha, whereas I agree with your premise, its not like a Moslem guy can marry a Christian woman without any heads turning, as for the opposite of that (christian man, moslem woman)…I don’t even want to go there. I personally find the whole thing retarded (stage directions: Arms engulfing head, ducking in anticipation of religious anecdotes). Jordan has an ‘acceptance’ facade, but you must have been in on one of those gossip sessions that happen between its socialites to know better.

  2. The failure to mention Jordan could be for many reasons.
    First, the Copts in Egypt have historically had that friction of co-existance ever since they were established.
    Second, I agree with you, Jordan is the model of perfect co-existance, or at least as perfect as perfection can come in this world. So there’s no controversy there. If christians and muslims clashed on the streets of Amman, well then you’d have a story.
    Jordan is about 5% christian whereas Egypt is at 10%, that comes out to be something like 6 or 7 million which is the overall population of Jordan.
    Third, Egyptian Copts are different from other Christians in the Middle East. Some have their own language, some do not see themselves as Arabs, so there is a wedge that is created. Compare this to several Jordanians in a room, you’d have trouble telling the difference between a christian and a muslim.
    Fourth, History. To some parts of the Middle East Christianity is practically non-existant, especially in modern times, so theres a lot of friction there when it feels like a foreign element is entering, we see that in the gulf. Jordan and Palestine represent the craddle of religious civilization and its not something that can be easily erased.
    Lastly, Religion. Jordan follows the “people of the book” ideology outlined in the Quran which commands that Muslims must live peacefully with Christians and so if Christians live on any given Muslim land this gives rise to Islamic laws which must be followed, such as gaurenteeing their rights, their safety, their right to worship etc etc, in other words catering to the Christian population. Other Arab countries have tried to avoid this whole scenerio, it’s sort of along the lines of “what you don’t know about won’t kill you” mentality, and this has somewhat worked because either the christian population is scattered or is just too small population wise.

  3. If Jordan followed the ‘People of the Book’ mentality would’nt that mean that they are also friendly with Jews, since they are also considered to be monotheistic (Diyanat samawiyyeh)?
    I don’t know if that’s what you meant by people of the book if that is not the case.

  4. “And therein lies my point. Jews cannot live in Jordan if they wish to remain Jewish.”
    Just as Muslims cannot live in Israel. So please spare us such absurd comments unless you are willing to discuss both sides of the issues.

  5. Sakhafaat 3omry relax, I was nt advocating anything, why do you always revert back to the Zionist conspiracy, I thought we discussed that earlier 7obbi, we’re on the same side so spare me that tone and grow up. When I say ‘Jews cannot live in Jordan but Jordanians can live in Israel’ then come give me your morsels of wisdom. However, when I say ‘jews cannot live in Jordan’ I am merely trying to understand an argument presented by Nas.

  6. “why do you always revert back to the Zionist conspiracy”
    I live this conspiracy phrase which has become a favorite comeback for most shallow, indifferent folks. And BTW, we are not on the same side. You don’t decide for me which side I am on. I know when I meet someone with whom I share common values. You ain’t that person.

  7. For a “spectator” Christian, I think things are alright in Jordan; by alright I mean: He or she can live a good life with minimum harrassments. By “spectator” I mean, a Christian that if a court accuses him of being a Christian, he can easily prove it wrong. Or, who only goes to church on occasions and sometimes is shown kissing the hand of the priest. But what if you ever tried to publish a book to the Christian community in Jordan, or build a church, or protest of some noisy loudspeakers used in the neighbouring mosque?. What if an Imaam attacks Christianity from the pulpit; what is your chances for a complaint ( I say just a complaint; but not an action or penalty). What would you be able to do toward a book attacking Christians and Christianity and is sold in the market; or in the Husseini Mosque Sa7a ? For most of you, if not all, you do not know what I am talking abought, correct ? The list goes on and on and on, and unless you know what rights a free citizen should get, you will keep bragging of the best example of coexistence you ever experienced.

  8. Thank God I ‘aint’ buddy…I live in palestine because I am indifferent you are so right, and I am shallow becuase I am trying to understand what someone else is saying, you’re good. Thank God we don’t share the same values. By the way, calling people you don’t know shallow makes you, in my ‘shallow’ perspective, a coward, communication will not kill you.
    Abdelstar, I don”t know what you’re talking about; aside from being shallow you see, I have very poor processing abilities, I am slower than the average person.

  9. Speaking of the “Copts”; a simple history book will help to understand that they are natives in their land, speak Arabic very well, and above all; their contributions to Christianity are more than what Christian Jordanians contributed in all Jordan’s history. The blood they shed for witnissing their faith can never be denied or undermined by an article in a blog.

  10. Hamako, there is a difference between saying “there are no jewish jordanians” and saying “Jews cannot live in Jordan if they wish to remain Jewish”.
    Jordan does not have any Jordanian Jews, we don’t have polar bears either.

  11. Jareer, have u tried to do any of those things you listed? i.e. have you ever called the police to complain about an imam who was inciting hatred against christians in jordan? or the right to build a church? or publish a book on christianity?
    because an imam can get thrown in jail for enciting hatred against jews let alone christians. you can attain a lisence to build a church from the ministry of religious affairs. and publishing a book shouldn’t be so hard considering my parent’s neighbour is a jordanian author who is christian and publishes religious books.
    as for anti-christian books in the downtown. are any of those books sold at the safeway or istiklal or any official library in jordan or just on the streets. in other words are they black market books sold on the streets or they officially recognised by the government?
    and the loudspeakers? well thats a little silly. i lived by the church in swefieh and it rang its bells. the fact that people in that area didnt pick up there phone all the time to complain about the bells is what is called “tolerence” and “co-existance”. the same goes for the christian community.

  12. Natasha,
    What I have been through, you will need long time to experience, if ever. You seem you lived in Sweifieh, as you tell here. Looks like you do not relate to most Jordanians.
    When you call a thought ” silly”, you are far from the reporting business, or its ethics. When you respect other people’s opinion, and try not to impose your own, then come and start your conversation.

  13. As per Nas:
    “there is a difference between saying “there are no jewish jordanians” and saying “Jews cannot live in Jordan if they wish to remain Jewish”. ”
    Enlighten me Nas, how are they different? ‘Jews cannot live in Jordan if they wish to remain Jewish’. By ‘live in Jordan’ I mean attain citizenship or even temporary status by moving there. As lucid as it may be, attaining Jordanian citizenship makes a plausable argument that one is Jordanian (what a concept).
    My posts have achieved nothing but the opposite of their purpose; sometimes its useless to throw a new idea into the mix. Apologies for the drama Natasha.

  14. Hamako, you said that since Muslims follow the islamic law of people of the book then “would’nt that mean that they are also friendly with Jews”, and I am saying that this is correct but we don’t have any jews in Jordan. Morocco on the other hand does have jews and they grant them equal rights i believe
    i believe jews are not allowed to get citizenship in jordan although i dont know any jew that would want to but this is jordanian law. we are talking about co-existance between muslims and christians under society. the jordanian law in place concerning jews was issued when jordan controlled the west bank and they didnt want zionists buying up palestinian land legally.
    lol its fine to throw in an opposing idea but u have to be prepared to defend it at the very least.

  15. Natasha,
    What I have been through, you will need long time to experience, if ever. You seem you lived in Sweifieh, as you tell here. Looks like you do not relate to most Jordanians.
    When you call a thought ” silly”, you are far from the reporting business, or its ethics. When you respect other people’s opinion, and try not to impose your own, then come and start your conversation.

    Jareer,
    This is Nas, not Natasha.
    My apologies for calling your thought “silly”, but im not in the reporting business so objectivity is not a real goal here.
    However I do respect your opinion which is why I asked you when you have experienced any of those things. I ask out of interest so I can understand what you are talking about. I make no prejudgments about your life and your experiences as I’m sure you did not mean to when you said I do not relate to the rest of Jordan simply because you know the area where I used to live.

  16. OOPS !
    My apologies for the names mix – up.
    Jareer is punishing himself now and will not participate in this blog for the next seven days.
    Nas; what I was simply saying is that the more you try to blend in into the society, and the more you realise what true citizenship rights are; all what has been said here about coexistance is nothing but giving in from the weak to the strong. As long as we are satisfied with what we “get”, then there is no problem, and everything is alright as I previously said.

  17. Great web site. I think you’ll find that Western media outlets cater to the sensational. There is so much misinformation out there about the Middle East, Arabs and Muslims that people want information, at the same time, in our current day and age, what is sensational sells.
    As a western white guy married to an Arab woman I can attest from person experience that we as Americans and Westerners dont know a thing about the area, and much of the collective “knowledge” we have it WRONG!

  18. Wow, I certainly don’t know what you people work as, but as far as your information goes, it is far from the mark. Jordan is by far the best country in the middle east for peaceful coexistence of religions, however, too prove to you that even Jordan suffers; Jordan has gone from a country that once had over 15% of its population Christian, to now less than 2%. Where did they all go? Immigrated. Madaba was once 100% Christian until the last census in which it is now earmarked as 48%. Don’t get me wrong, Christians aren’t leaving because its cool or for a better living (as an statistical group it is the most powerful and richiest for its size), but rather the unease. I am proud to be from Jordan, just like all Christian jordanians. Jordan is in my blood and in my heart, and no Jordanian can leave it without getting home-sick. Then you see your family friends leave, you see your town or city change, you hear the mosque scream out infidels at the nazarens and the jews. The saddest part is that Jordanian Christians are dying out. Less than 2 Million in the whole world.

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