REMARKS BY HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH II IBN AL HUSSEIN EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT STRASBOURG 10 MARCH 2015
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
Thank you. Jordan treasures its long ties of friendship with this great institution. I appreciate your invitation to speak today.
Permettez-moi aussi de remercier les citoyens de Strasbourg pour leur hospitalité chaleureuse. Cette ville représente toujours un symbole du passage de la guerre à la paix, un symbole de la réconciliation et de l'unité de l'Europe.
People thrive where there is mutual respect. Civilisation is built on it. Futures are better for it.
But co-existence must be made, and made again, in every generation. The common good is defended only by vigilance and action. This means more than security measures. Humanity must arm itself with ideas, with justice and with economic and social inclusion.
Today, these challenges have special importance. Our world faces an assault by terrorists with ruthless ambition. The motive is not faith, it is power; power pursued by ripping countries and communities apart in sectarian conflicts, and inflicting suffering across the world.
The savage murder by Daesh of Jordan’s hero pilot outraged all Jordanians, and horrified the world. Jordan’s response has been swift, serious and determined. And our fight will continue. We and other Arab and Muslim states defend not only our people but our faith. This is a fight that has to be carried out by Muslim nations first and foremost. A fight within Islam.
At the same time, the danger of extremism must be seen for what it is: global. The threat is not only in Syria and Iraq. It has struck Libya, Yemen, Sinai, Mali, Nigeria, the Horn of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Europe has suffered despicable attacks and shown unbeatable courage. Your friends are with you. In January, Rania and I joined millions of people in France, who marched, united, against violence and intimidation.
There are those living in Europe today who remember the ravages that struck the continent in the late 1930s and the World War that followed because of an aggressive, expansionist ideology based on hate and disregard for the very essence of humanity. Europe’s war became the World’s War. Today, we are fighting a similar war. A war against an expansionist ideology that feeds on hate; that is committing murder in the name of God and religion to justify evil actions that no religion tolerates — a war against terrorists who disrespect Islam’s values and humanity’s values.
Our victory now depends on our unity. Europe’s role is vital. Only by cooperation can our regions shut down the sources of terrorist support and defeat their purposes.
It is also essential that our regions renew the source of our great strength: the mutual respect that binds and sustains us. Young people, especially, must be inspired by values that reject violence, create peace and build inclusive society. Let me suggest three areas of importance.
The first is meaningful interfaith outreach, engaging people where they live. A dialogue of respect is the rock-bed of all societies. Attacking and excluding others, insulting other peoples and their faith and convictions — this is no way forward. The future lies in unity and respect, not division and stereotypes.
Europe is an important partner in this effort — especially in helping to stop the global rise of Islamophobia. This poison is based on false ideas and plays into the hands of these extremists.
This is why it is important to clarify what it really means to be a Muslim. I and countless other Muslims, have been taught from our earliest years that our religion demanded respect and caring for others. The Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”
This is what it means to be a Muslim.
Among the very names of God, we hear: the Compassionate, the All-Merciful. All my life, every day, I have heard and used the greeting, Assalamu aleikum — a wish for the other to be blessed with peace.
This is what it means to be a Muslim.
More than a thousand years before the Geneva Conventions, Muslim soldiers were ordered not to kill a child, a woman or an old person, not to destroy a tree, not to harm a priest, not to destroy a church.
These are the same values of Islam we were taught in school as children: not to destroy or desecrate a place where God is worshipped, not a mosque, not a church, not a synagogue.
This is what it means to be a Muslim. These are the values I teach my children and they will hand on to theirs.
I am outraged and grieved by the recent attacks in some countries against Christian and minority communities. This is an offense against humanity as well as Islam. Arab Christians are an integral part of our region’s past, present and future.
Jordan is a Muslim country, with a deeply-rooted Christian community. Together, the Jordanian people make up an indivisible society, friends and partners in building our country.
The world’s Muslims have a critical role in global understanding. Our faith, like yours, commands mercy, peace and tolerance. It upholds, as yours does, the equal human dignity of every person — men and women, neighbours and strangers. Those outlaws of Islam who deny these truths are vastly outnumbered by the ocean of believers — 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. In fact, these terrorists have made the world’s Muslims their greatest target. We will not allow them to hijack our faith.
The second area key to global harmony is an international system that gives all people the respect they want and deserve. Again and again, I hear the question: why doesn’t the world defend Palestinian rights?
Time after time, the peace process has stalled. Let me say what the situation looks like in reality: more Israeli settlement building, less respect for the occupied Palestinians.
This failure sends a dangerous message. It erodes trust in international law and community. It threatens a pillar of world peace: that conflict must be solved by political means — not by force, not by violence. And it has given the extremists a powerful rallying cry. They exploit the injustices and the lingering conflict, to build legitimacy and recruit foreign fighters across Europe and the world.
It is time to think about the future, and how this ongoing conflict will breed further hate, violence and terror across the world. How can we fight the ideological battle, if we do not chart the way forward towards Palestinian-Israeli peace?
Our countries, united, must provide the momentum and chart the way forward towards a final, comprehensive settlement.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A third critical effort is creating deeper hope. Radicalisation thrives on economic insecurity and exclusion. To create stakeholders in a peaceful world, people need opportunities to fulfil their potential and build good lives. Helping them is a powerful message of respect.
The European Parliament has recognised the importance of creating social and economic opportunities in naming 2015 the Year of Development.
For Jordan, development is a priority. And despite all the regional challenges, we have pressed forward to meet urgent needs, to grow jobs, to improve the quality of life through continued reforms and partnerships such as yours. Jordan values our strong partnership with the European Union and its member states and we are committed, with your support, to work together towards more advanced levels of partnership.
Jordan also takes seriously our moral obligations to others. Despite scarce resources, the people of Jordan have opened their arms to refugees fleeing regional violence. Jordan has taken in thousands of Iraqi Christians over the past year. This is in addition to giving shelter to 1.4 million Syrian refugees, which is 20 per cent of the population, over the past few years. This is more than the equivalent of France hosting the entire population of Belgium. My small country is now the world’s third-largest refugee host and I thank all of you who are helping us to uphold this global responsibility.
Your support sends a message, not only to my people, but all those who seek to move forward in peace and moderation: Europe is with you.
Our regions, our people, can find no better partners and neighbours than each other. History, geography and future bind us. Let no one separate us. Together, we can create pillars of mutual respect that will support the common good for generations to come.