AMMAN — Her Majesty Queen Rania acknowledged that criticism is part and parcel of public life and that public figures must expect to be placed under a microscope.
As such "successes resonate loudly and failures may resonate even louder", the Queen said in the second part of an interview with Al Arabiya satellite channel's primetime anchor Muntaha Al Ramahi, which aired on Monday.
"I support responsible criticism, and every, any piece of advice someone gives me, I take into consideration and react to it, even if it is hurtful," she noted, according to a statement from her office.
However, Her Majesty drew a distinction between criticism based on truth or even rational perspectives and criticism based on rumours and misinformation. "There were some falsifications and exaggerations — rumours circulating with absolutely no foundation of truth, but circulating as if they were facts."
"There were rumours that touched my integrity and questioned the principles that I was raised on, rumours that also reached the closest people to me, my family, without any shred of truth. And these of course hurt me and were difficult to deal with to some extent," the Queen said.
Islam and stereotypes
In response to a question about Her Majesty's 2008 YouTube campaign, in which she launched a series of self-published videos tackling stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims in the West, Queen Rania stressed the importance of combating ignorance about Islam and addressing prevalent misconceptions in the West.
"Sadly, the stereotypical image of Islam is that it is a religion of hatred, a religion of violence… we must take this issue seriously because this stereotype is the furthest possible from the truth. Islam to millions of Muslims around the world is a religion of human values and principles of goodness."
Queen Rania added that even the language used by some when talking about Islam is sometimes reductionist. "I see erroneous categorisations of Islam. They say ‘moderate Islam’ and ‘radical Islam’. Today, there is no moderate or radical Islam. Islam by nature is moderate… But there are radical interpretations of it."
Her Majesty further warned about the damaging and increasingly loud voices of incitement, hatred and division in today’s discourse in the Arab world.
"Islam, and all monotheistic faiths, are based on mercy… But the religious discourse that dominates today, as a result of its loudness, is hostage to Fatwas [edicts] of takfir, zealotry and closed-mindedness on the one hand, and to calls for radicalism, hatred, and sectarian strife (fitna) on the other."
Referring to acts of violence committed in the name of Islam, the Queen called on the Muslim world to condemn such acts. "We must denounce, decry and raise our voices in condemnation of such actions, not with shy voices, but with loud voices. Not to polish our image in the West or to appease them, but because our religion deserves this from us."
Asked if she feels that she represents Arab women, Her Majesty noted that Arab women are diverse and do not fit into one single mould.
She lamented the fact that while the Arab world has made massive investments in female education, it has yet to reap the rewards, with the rate of female unemployment in the region being one of the highest in the world.
"Maybe we hear this often, but I would like to reassert that it is impossible for any nation to fulfil its potential if half of its inherent capacity is inactive and unproductive."
Globalisation and openness
Her Majesty weighed in on a question about concerns that openness to the West threatens Arab and Muslim values and culture, saying that globalisation is an inescapable reality.
She added that some of the attitudes towards this issue in the region stand at either of two extremes: "Complete isolation and a rejection of all that is new just because it is new" on one end, or an "infatuation with Western cultures accompanied by unaware, irresponsible and blind imitation" on the other.
The Queen emphasised the need to find a third way, a moderate path "that says I am an Arab and a Muslim and I hold onto and am proud of all the traditions and values that come with that. But, at the same time, I want to be a part of the world around me, to interact with it."
Talking about her engagement in several international forums, Her Majesty highlighted the urgent need for an Arab presence and representation of Arab perspectives in the international arena.
"It is very important that we speak for ourselves, and not leave a vacuum that allows others to speak on our behalf. We have to narrate our story in our own voice so that it can be authentic and representative of us."
Later in the interview, the Queen recalled the day HRH Crown Prince Hussein was born: "28th of June, 1994, this is a date I will never forget because it is the day I became a mother for the first time."
"I think that all mothers who are watching us now know that we share an invisible link, and this connection comes from knowing what it means for a mother to love her child and how a mother fears for her children, and how when you have a child, your life is no longer your own but becomes someone else’s," she said.
Her Majesty also talked about her family life and how His Majesty King Abdullah and she spend their time with their children — "the dinner table always brings us together".
She added that weekends are also very important to them as a family: "We always have lunch together. His Majesty always enjoys watching TV, like football matches and other things with the kids."
Being a queen
Concluding the interview, Queen Rania explained what being “Queen” meant to her.
"It is a big responsibility and a great honour."
She added that "like there is Rania the Queen, there is Rania the mother, the daughter, the friend, the wife. And in all these roles, I am no different to any other woman; I share the same fear, the same challenges, and the same concerns."
- The interview can be found on Her Majesty’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/queenrania)
- A translated transcript of part two of the interview is available on http://www.queenrania.jo/media/interviews
- For more on Queen Rania: www.queenrania.jo, www.twitter.com/QueenRania, www.facebook.com/QueenRania, www.flickr.com/photos/QueenRania