02/17/2023 Jordan (International Christian Concern) – Last month, a statue of Jesus Christ erected on a major road of Jordan’s majority Christian town of Fuheis not only initially sparked a local controversy but lead to a wider statement by Jordan’s King Abdullah on the issue of religious freedom in the kingdom. The statue was donated by and placed outside of the Fuheis Youth Club, located on the main road of the town. Some residents of the area complained merely of the “particular location of the city,” the statue was placed, whereas other Jordanians expressed their dissatisfaction with the likeness to idolatry and paganism that the statue represented to them. While the municipality later ruled to take the statue down and relocate it to a local Christian cemetery, King Abdullah made a visit just weeks later to Fuheis just weeks after the incident and met with leaders and residents of the town to display his position for religious tolerance in Jordan.
Christian’s have lived in the region now known as Jordan since the time of Christ; today numbering only around 140,000 (Majority of them belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church), making up between 1-2% of the Kingdom’s population. Large numbers of Palestinian and Iraqi Christians also reside in Jordan, having taken refuge in Jordan during past periods of turmoil and displacement in their homelands. While Christians are free to practice their faith, elements of Islamic extremism and terrorism both within Jordanian society and in neighboring states has placed pressure on Jordan’s small Christian minority.
In Fuheis, King Abdullah gave a strong rebuke to any elements of Jordanian society that would seek to disrupt the delicate fabric of religious diversity in the Kingdom, reporting saying to community leaders present that “Racist concepts are alien to the Jordanian society and they have no place in the Kingdom.” He reiterated his aim to preserve Jordan’s long history of religious co-existence between Christians and Muslims, noting that “schools bear the responsibility of bringing up a generation who believes in the values of citizenship and coexistence”, and that “officials must undertake strict measures against anyone who opposes these values and promotes bigotry.”
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