This Daily Star article, “Jordan’s Christians may feel safe, but they are also leaving,” detailed how thoroughly Jordanian Christians have adopted, in dhimmi fashion, the political positions of the Muslim majority. However, it still isn’t enough to make them think Jordan is a place where they have a future. (Thanks to Ruth King for the link.)
Jordan’s indigenous Arab Christian minority is not in high spirits these days. Political uncertainty next door, both in Iraq and Palestine, and growing popular perceptions of a new global crusade being waged against Islam and Arab culture in the name of the “war on terror,” are souring their mood.
As a result, many in this dwindling community – it now makes up less than 3 percent of the kingdom’s 5.2 million population compared to over 6 percent a century ago – are facing a dilemma. They are caught between the rock of the U.S.-led war on terror, and the hard place of having to remind their compatriots that the West sees them as Arabs, first and foremost. In fact, followers of Islam and Christianity in Jordan – from the ruling political and economic elite, down to the ordinary man in the street – find themselves in the same predicaments, internally and externally.
On the external front, both communities are facing pressure from the neoconservatives and Christian fundamentalists who are steering Washington’s foreign policy these days. Both Christians and Muslims are outspoken critics of continued Israeli atrocities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and want to see an independent Palestinian state emerge next door. They also want to see an end to the American occupation of Iraq, and a return of law and order, key factors that continue to encourage many Iraqi Christians to emigrate to the West.
And the two communities are facing similar domestic challenges in a socially conservative country, amid growing Islamic radicalization throughout a largely autocratic region that is partly a reaction to rapid globalization, unemployment, poverty and lack of democracy and human rights.