Jordan : ‘Arab social charter' to safeguard Christians

2012-03-19 Vatican Radio

“The Arab Christians are Arabs, and are the pioneers of thought and Arab revival. They are authentic and genuine in their countries”, said Jordanian Prince Hassan Ibn Talal launching a to a two day summit in Amman last week on the theme: “Christianity in the East: to where?”.

The meeting was hosted by the Jordanian Royal Institute of Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS) in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in cooperation with the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, and the Mennonite Central Committee. Participants included bishops, religious, researchers, and scholars, Muslims and Christians; and were from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and Iran.

“Prince Hassan asked for the meeting to stop this exodus [of Christians –ed] and to ask Christians very clearly to remain”, says Fr. Samir Khalil Samir S.J., an Egptian born scholar of Islam. “The conditions to remain is to be recognised by the constitutions as true citizens, having the same rights of citizenship and true equalities as everybody”.

In fact one of the recommendations mentioned in the final outcome was the drafting of an “Arab social charter” to enshrine the rights and protection of minorities in Arab nations as well as a regional “observatory” to monitor and exchange information on religious freedom in the Middle East.

“This is the weak point in Muslim societies” says Fr. Samir. “We need change in the constitutions, laws and practice”. Listen to Emer McCarthy’s full interview with Fr. Samir: