The Forum for Development Culture and Dialogue has held a conference in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, titled, “Towards Strengthening the Foundations of Understanding among People of Religions and Cultures”.
The conference was held in cooperation with the Danish Dana Michaene Foundation and the Iraqi Hope Association. It was attended by delegations from Jordan as well as from Arab and foreign countries.
With discussion dedicated to the Jordanian experience in the field of dialogue and common living, Director of the Development Department of the “Generations for Peace” Ms. Iman Hindawi highlighted a number of activities carried out by the Generations for Peace to bring students closer to the culture of accepting the different others.
Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan Fr. Rif’at Bader highlighted Jordan’s role in the field of dialogue. He said:”Jordan’s private and public institutions have made great strides in the field of interfaith dialogue thus becoming entitled to take the lead in the field of interfaith dialogue worldwide. Following welcoming Pope Paul VI in 1964, Pope John Paul II in 2000, Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and Pope Francis 2014, attention was focused on interfaith dialogue in its capacity as an essential element in peacemaking and harmony among peoples.”
He pointed out that Jordan was the first Middle Eastern country that has called for, participated in, and organized dialogue conferences for decades. It also launched several dialogue institutions and initiatives that became global such as the Christian Arab Conference, the Amman Message, the Common Word Initiative, and the World Interfaith Harmony Week. He also referred to the role played by His Majesty King Abdullah in the preservation of the status quo of Jerusalem, his call for the implementation of international legitimacy, and maintaining the Hashemite guardianship of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in the Holy City.
Concluding his address, Fr. Bader said: “In spite of the daily suffering, we believe, as a human family, that we are qualified to formulate a new spring in the Islamic-Christian relations. This is due to the fact that we have in this era Pope Francis; the patriarchs of the East, who are qualified to make contributions; His Majesty King Abdullah II, who spares no effort to unveil the bright image of Islam and to defend the Christian presence in the East; as well as the common historical Arab-Christian-Islamic heritage. All these contribute to a new Arab spring based on respect for diversity, citizenship, brotherhood and full equality among the different shades of our societies.”
The opening ceremony was attended by Maronite Beirut Bishop Boulos Matar, Member of Parliament Bahiya Hariri who deputized for patron of the conference Prime Minister Sa’d Hariri, and Director of the Forum for Development Culture and Pastor Riad Jarjour, in addition to representatives of the European Union and the Danish Dana Michaene Foundation. The Jordanian delegation also included Dr. Amer Al-Hafi, advisor at the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, Dr. Hassan Abu Arqoub from the Fatwa Department, and Sheikh Mustafa Abu Rumman. Sudan’s Ambassador to Jordan Dr. Sadeq Al Mahdi also participated in the conference.