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King urges renewal of ‘our global neighbourhood’ to ‘get the job done’

His Majesty delivers remarks at Washington luncheon, holds talks with US national security adviser

By JT - Feb 03,2017 - Last updated at Feb 03,2017

His Majesty King Abdullah delivers remarks at a luncheon in Washington, DC, on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Thursday called for renewing “our global neighbourhood”, focusing on “what unites us, not what divides us... and standing together to get the job done”.

In remarks delivered at a luncheon in Washington, DC, held after the National Prayer Breakfast 2017 and attended by Her Majesty Queen Rania and several political, intellectual and religious leaders, the King highlighted the tolerant values of Islam.

“Among its many beautiful gifts, Islam, as with other faiths, commands mercy and tolerance, calls on us to honour the dignity of every person, forbids coercion in religion, and demands respect for the houses of God,” His Majesty said at the luncheon.

Also on Thursday, the King held talks in Washington, DC, with US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and discussed the latest regional developments, as well as the US administration’s efforts to prepare a new anti-terrorism strategy, a Royal Court statement said.

Talks also covered Libya, Syria, Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, in addition to means of further cooperation between Jordan and the US.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, King’s Office Director Jafar Hassan and Jordan’s Ambassador to the US Dina Kawar also attended the meeting.


Following is the full text of King Abdullah’s remarks at the luncheon in Washington, DC:


In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Thank you — for having me and Rania here with you, and our special thanks to Senator Boozman and Senator Coons and our good friends from the Senate and House Breakfast Leadership Groups. It is wonderful to be with friends — some old, some new — but all dear to our hearts.

We especially value our deep friendship with the American people. So I was delighted this year to have another opportunity to join today’s important gathering. Allow me to say it was a special pleasure to greet President Trump at the Breakfast this morning. I’m keen to work with the new administration and our many other friends here in Washington.

My friends, we are here today to honour God’s role in our lives and in the future of our world.

For decades, humanity has been moving at lightning speed, surrounded by change on every side. The internet and social media are bringing new ideas and global events to the very phones in our pockets. New economic sectors and skills emerge, only to be bypassed for something new. Old ways of doing things constantly seem to be left behind.

The promise of all this was a satisfied life, but we aren’t seeing that satisfaction. For too many, the promise of opportunity seems to dangle just out of reach. Our communications technologies have equalised access to knowledge, but not necessarily access to opportunity; as a result, people now know all too well just what they are missing out on. Everywhere I travel, I meet people who feel left out... their identities disrespected... their voices unheard. More and more people feel the ground of life shifting under their feet.

Yet there is ground on which we can stand that doesn’t shift, that cannot shift — the unchanging spiritual values we share. Tolerance, mercy, compassion for others, mutual respect — these principles unite and strengthen a civilised world. Without them, technology and riches will fail to make life better. But with them, by the Grace of God, we can find the solutions that people everywhere need.

And it is those common ideals that bring us all together today. Because they are the foundations of every religion; whether we bow in a mosque, kneel in a church, pray in a temple, or simply engage in a selfless act of kindness, we are joined in faith.

Spiritual values are powerful because they reflect the highest source of our good. It is God who leads us to come together, as brothers, as sisters, equal in dignity, whatever our race or background or creed. His two greatest Commandments — To Love God and Love Our Neighbour – are recognised in Islam, Christianity, Judaism.

My friends, We need to renew our global neighbourhood... focusing on what unites us, not what divides us... and standing together to get the job done. It begins by asking, what kind of world do we want for ourselves and our children? And what can we do, by the Grace of God, to make it happen? Nowhere is the answer more important than in how we meet today’s global terrorist threat. These criminal groups thrive by pitting neighbour against neighbour, East against West, faith against faith. They have launched a murderous assault, not only on our people’s lives, but on the very fabric of our civilised world. They prey on anxiety and fear to recruit the vulnerable, and divide and weaken the rest of us.

The longer these forces are able to consume regions in violence and deprivation, the greater the ripples worldwide. We have seen an unprecedented, global refugee crisis. And our small country has borne a massive burden; today, it is the top refugee hosting country in the world. We have taken in millions fleeing danger, Muslim and Christian alike opening our neighbourhoods, our means, and our hearts to offer support and safe haven.

As a leader, it pains me to see how difficult the past few years have been on my people. But we take guidance, and draw comfort and strength from the words of God, who tells us: "So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief. Verily, with every difficulty there is relief. Therefore, when thou art free, still labour hard, and to thy Lord turn thy attention." (Koran 94:5-6 — Surat ash-Sharh) So, we will continue to work hard, and to have faith in God, because our world cannot accept such a status quo of violence, deprivation, and fear.

We need to act, in the battlefield and beyond. Security cooperation is vital. But we must also take back the battleground of ideas. This demands a new emphasis on those values that uphold a peaceful world. Acting with mercy and compassion, to gather in the excluded, and help the weak. Serving our neighbours, close at home and across the world, by opening new doors of opportunity and hope. And exposing the lies that would undermine our future.

For those of us who are Muslim, this fight is very personal. These criminals are khawarej; outlaws to our faith. People nowadays talk about “fake news”; the khawarej produce “fake Islam”. They selectively paste together the words of Islamic texts, to promote a false and perverted ideology. In reality, everything they are, everything they do, is a blatant violation of the teachings of my faith.

Together, let’s set the record straight. Among its many beautiful gifts, Islam, as with other faiths, commands mercy and tolerance ... calls on us to honour the dignity of every person ... forbids coercion in religion ... and demands respect for the houses of God. I am honoured and humbled to serve as Hashemite custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, a city that is precious and holy to all three monotheistic faiths and must be respected as such.

This is the Islam I was taught, and so I teach my children. And so our faith is taught to Muslim children worldwide. Those outlaws do not inhabit the fringes of Islam — they are altogether outside of it. And I have called on the Muslim world to fight back boldly. We, like other faith communities, have a vast silent majority and it is time for that majority to get loud and to be clear in their condemnation.

Non-Muslims also have a critical role. Buying into the radicals’ false claims only serves their evil ambitions. They want to pull societies apart and cut the ties of friendship around the world. They thrive on suspicion and misunderstanding. And they applaud acts of Islamophobia and narratives of hate. Every inch along this path contradicts the values that give us strength, and endangers the future we share. This is why it is vital for leaders at every level to seek to understand other faiths, and educate others as well.

My friends, our faiths — whether Islam, Christianity, or Judaism — teach us that we are defined by our choices, not our circumstances. By the choices we make or the choices we don’t. By our action or our inaction. By kindness or cruelty, boldness or doubt, compassion or indifference.

There has never been a more critical time to make the right — and often hard — choices, all around the world. Our future as a global community lies in the balance, but by working together, guided by our faith, we can tip the scales firmly in favour of peace and shared prosperity.

Peace, God’s Mercy and Blessings be upon you.

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