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Thousands of Iraqi minorities, including Christians, camp in an open field after fleeing from ISIS in 2014.
Christians, Jews and Muslims must unite to combat the “apocalyptic vision” peddled by Islamic State in the Middle East, Prince Hassan of Jordan has said.
Writing in the Telegraph, Prince Hassan bin Talal and Dr Ed Kessler, director of the Woolf Institute, condemn the “hate and atrocities” committed in Iraq and Syria in the name of religion.
“Christianity has been part of the essential fabric of the Middle East for two thousand years. Far from being a Western import as some, incredibly, now seem to suggest, it was born here and exported as a gift to the rest of the world. Christian communities have been intrinsic to the development of Arab culture and civilisation,” they write.
“This central role in our region and civilisation is why it is abhorrent to us, as a Muslim and a Jew, to see Christianity and Christians under such savage assault across our region.”
The two go on to say they are “appalled… by the sickening attacks on our fellow human beings”.
“We also know that to lose Christianity from its birthplace would be to destroy the richness of the tapestry of the Middle East and a hammer blow to our shared heritage. The reality is that we are all one community, united by shared beliefs and history,” they say.
ISIS does not only target Christians, they note, but “has shown itself as prepared to slaughter indiscriminately other Muslims as it has Jews, Christians and others”, regardless of nationality.
“Helping to end this dangerous slide towards hatred, self-destruction and fratricidal conflict is the main challenge for all of us involved in interfaith dialogue. This requires us to step up our efforts to increase understanding that what unites the three great faiths of our region is far greater than any differences. We must stress, too, that respect for the past and learning from it does not require us to live there.”
Historically, violence has been committed by Muslims, Jews and Christians, using their respective Scriptures to justify “the most appalling actions in the name of God”, the Prince and Kessler add.
They emphasise the importance of interpretation, which “provides us with the ability to deal with texts that run contrary to what we regard as the fundamental values of our tradition”.
“It is time to call a halt to the hate and atrocities that are causing convulsions throughout our immediate region and beyond,” they conclude. “Peace and humanity itself hang upon the success of this interfaith exercise. It is that important.”
Jordan is hosting more than 600,000 Syrian refugees who have fled ISIS and the ongoing civil war – about 10 per cent of its total population.