April 19, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6881

Young Muslim Jordanians Launch Initiative To Guard Churches On Easter Sunday

April 19, 2017
Egypt, Jordan | Special Dispatch No. 6881

On April 15, 2017, following the deadly church bombings perpetrated by ISIS in Egypt and following the circulation of an ISIS video threatening terror in Jordan,[1]  the English-language Jordanian daily Jordan Times reported that young Muslim Jordanians from various parts of the country had volunteered to guard churches on Easter Sunday. The article, by Suzanna Goussous, quoted some of the activists, who said that the goal of the initiative was to underscore the unity among Jordanians and enable all citizens of the kingdom to practice their religion in peace without restrictions or fear.

The following are excerpts from the report, in the original English.

"Christians perform rituals on Palm Sunday in Amman last week (Photo by Hassan Tamimi)

"After the attacks on two churches in Egypt last week, Muslim Jordanian youth launched an initiative to protect churches all over the Kingdom on Easter Sunday, in an act of solidarity, they said.

"Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks on two Coptic churches in Egypt’s Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday, which killed around 44 and injured more than 100 worshippers, many of whom were children.

"Kazem Kharabsheh wrote: 'On Sunday, our Christian brothers and sisters will be in churches [performing] religious [rituals], [and] extremists [are] threatening our national security… My Muslim friends and I will be in Balqa Governorate, protecting its churches and people'...

"Another Balqa resident, Fayez Ruqeidi, added the vigilante act is meant to 'underline the unity of Jordanians and to give everyone the freedom to practice their religion without restraints or fear'.

"In Madaba, Hazem Al Fouqaha said many Muslim residents will stand as guards in front of churches to ensure the safety of Christians inside.

"Saleh Abu Mahfoud from Zarqa Governorate, some 19km east of Amman, announced his willingness to protect churches in the area, along with other activists to show solidarity with Christians celebrating Easter.

"Activists in Ajloun voiced a similar stand to 'show the world the harmony and conviviality in Jordan' and to present a model of a fight against extremism, xenophobia, and radicalism.'

"'We are always proud to say Jordan is made up of harmonious pieces of mosaics; it’s truly sad to see such security measures taken out of necessity in Jordan. We live in a small country and we know everyone here,' Amman resident Hala Saadi told The Jordan Times.

"Several security checkpoints were installed on the gates of some churches around the country, as a way to ensure protection of worshippers.

"Father Rifat Bader from the Amman-based Catholic Centre for Studies and Media said installing checkpoints at church gates is only a normal measure 'to help the security personnel, who are always present on every religious occasion'.

"Palm Sunday in Jordan was trouble free."

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