You are here

1. Editorial

Citation
Article title: 
1. Editorial
Publishers: 
Year: 
2008
Week: 
12
Article number: 
1
Date of source: 
19-06-2008
Author: 
Susan Richards-Benson
Text
Article summary: 

A number of articles in this issue discuss the increase in Christian emigration rom the Arab world. Further articles discuss the contentious issue of the hijāb and niqāb in the schools and workplace.

Article full text: 

I am thankful for the successful launch of the Electronic Network for Arab-West Understanding [ENAWU] by HRH Prince el-Hassan bin Talal on June 5 in Jordan. You find the photos of this event on www.enawu.org We are now preparing for a second presentation of the ENAWU project for our friends in Egypt on June 24 at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University at 11.00 am. You are all invited to attend this event.
I have returned from Jordan and I am grateful for the work our editors Susan Richards-Benson and Clare Turner have done to bring out several issues of AWR in my absence.
Article 3 in this issue reports on the expulsion of Christian missionaries from Jordan, an expulsion supported by local Jordanian Christians. Not only this article claims this, but individual Jordanian Christian friends I met explained this to me off the record. I was not interviewing any Christians about this; they were just speaking their mind. It is obvious that Jordan has a long history of tolerance toward local Christians. One finds a relatively large number of Christians in top positions such as the director of the Jordanian Radio and TV and met during this visit. But yet, Christian presence in Jordan has declined from 7 percent of population around 1980 to 3 to 3,5 percent today. Christians are suffering from chain migration, with middle class Christians finding better work opportunities in Western countries, encouraged by friends and families who had migrated before them. That is certainly not persecution but a sad development that if this continues will result in the end of Christianity in Jordan.
HRH Prince el-Hassan wrote some ten years ago a beautiful book on Christianity, he has since been engaged in tens of activities to encourage Christians to remain in Jordan. He expressed in my recent interview with him his opposition to Christian emigration because this results in declining pluralism [Christianity Today, February 2008].
Why, then, where these Christian missionaries expelled from a country that for decades closed an eye to much Christian missionary work. Did Jordan change? For this there is no evidence and it thus seems that some missionaries have become so ’bold’ that authorities felt the need to address this. Some missionary activities are focused on strengthening a church or Christian ministry but others are outright focused on rather publicly asking Muslims to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and once this happens in any Arab country in a more public fashion it is bound to result in resistance. Christians in Jordan want to live in peace with their Muslim neighbors. They do not want outsiders to interfere and thus cause social tensions.
Art 21 is describing the decline of Arab, especially Iraqi, Christianity. The decline is rapid and Arab Christians are not waiting for Western Christians to contribute in various ways to tensions in the region.
The issue of the hijāb and niqāb is a frequently debated topic. Recently, debates have risen in The Netherlands and Turkey over a woman’s right to don a veil, and whether or not this hinders the cohesion of society or prevents intercultural assimilation. The issue in the West is often interpreted as continued attacks against Islam or hindering religious freedom, yet this debate also frequents media sources in Egypt. Decrees issued by the American University in Cairo on a female’s right to veil while using their library facilities, to the permissibility of restricting such a right using the Islamic Sharī‘ah as a base reference, have all cropped up in recent months.
In article eight, the author discusses a recent decision announced by the Ministry of Health which forbids nurses from wearing a niqāb while on duty. The grounds for this ruling is the belief that a niqāb hinders a nurse’s ability to interact face-to-face with patients, and that nurses wearing a niqāb should be restricted to administrative tasks only. The ruling states that those in violation of the announcement, will be reprimanded either through a reduction in salary or other administrative punishments. Arguments opposing the decision note that the niqāb dignifies women, and enforcing the ruling violates the choice to chose one’s outfit protected under Islamic Sharī‘ah. Regardless of the religious necessity of veiling, it cannot be denied that this is an infringement on a woman’s right to freely chose what she should be able to wear. as the article notes, 9360 nurses, out of a total 90,000 nurses employed wear a niqāb, and should this ruling come into effect, it would push over 9000 qualified individuals into administrative tasks, an issue that must certainly be taken into consideration.
A further example of this hot topic is evident in article 11. Nashwá Jamāl, a student at a Catholic Franciscan nun’s school, was prevented from entering the school due to her insistence on wearing a hijāb. Despite a court ruling that permits her to wear it, the school has implicitly refused to put the ruling into effect, threatening her with expulsion if she insists that the ruling be adhered to. This contentious topic shows little sign of abating, due to the blurred lines within Islamic Sharī‘ah on whether or not women should be veiled, and the varying interpretations of verses related to this.
Article 27 discusses a recent statement by President Al-Qadhāfī of Libya who claims that the Holy Bible and the Torah are corrupt due to the removal of the Prophet Muhammads name. This came during the inauguration ceremony of the Grand Mosque in the Ugandan capital Kampala, a project that is being funded by Libya. Such statements do nothing to further understanding between the monotheistic religions, and only serve to heighten tensions and a lack of communication. s the choice to chose one’s outfit protected under Islamic Sharī‘ah. Regardless of the religious necessity of veiling, it cannot be denied that this is an infringement on a woman’s right to freely chose what she should be able to wear. As the article notes, 9360 nurses, out of a total 90,000 nurses employed wear a niqāb, and should this ruling come into effect, it would push over 9000 qualified individuals into administrative tasks, an issue that must certainly be taken into consideration.
A further example of this hot topic is evident in article 11. Nashwá Jamāl, a student at a Catholic Franciscan nun’s school, was prevented from entering the school due to her insistence on wearing a hijāb. Despite a court ruling that permits her to wear it, the school has implicitly refused to put the ruling into effect, threatening her with expulsion if she insists that the ruling be adhered to. This contentious topic shows little sign of abating, due to the blurred lines within Islamic Sharī‘ah on whether or not women should be veiled, and the varying interpretations of verses related to this.
Article 27 discusses a recent statement by President Al-Qadhāfī of Libya who claims that the Holy Bible and the Torah are corrupt due to the removal of the Prophet Muhammads name. This came during the inauguration ceremony of the Grand Mosque in the Ugandan capital Kampala, a project that is being funded by Libya. Such statements do nothing to further understanding between the monotheistic religions, and only serve to heighten tensions and a lack of communication.

Information
Article counter: 
185
Text type: 
Classifications
Share this