Rania, Queen of Jordan, at work: Development, gender and extremism

H/T: Myrtus

Jordan queen, Rania, has delivered a speech at the eighth Jeddah Economic Forum. In this speech she emphasized the importance of building a developed future for Muslims and Middle Eastern generations, correcting the false images of them in the West through reforms in the region for example with regard to genderissues.

She called upon moderate Muslims to stand up and reject extremism and highlighted the relationship between free choice and Islam by stating that Islam does not force upon women to wear the veil. She criticized the US role in the Middle East and the prejudices of Westerners towards Arab people but also stated that Arabs themselves contributed to these prejudices. She questioned the lack of progress and pleaded for reform based upon Arab traditions, Islamic tradition and non-Muslim rolemodels:

She invoked the golden age of Islam when Arab civilization was more open to the wisdom of others. “The Arab ancestors welcomed new ideas from foreign lands and combined them with their own experiences to push boundaries of knowledge farther,” she said.

The queen referred to two important non-Muslim moral leaders of the 20th Century — Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., who revolutionized methods of nonviolent protest and boycotts through mass participation and personal sacrifice.

These “leaders of humanity”, as she called them, managed to create profound change in their societies by meeting the violence of the state with nonviolent popular uprising. She quoted King’s famous line: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor popular, but because conscience tells him it is right.”

“And let us not forget the great words of our own religion,” she added. “God said in the Holy Qur’an ‘God will not change a nation until they change themselves,’” the queen said. “Today we must ask ourselves, where is that spirit?”

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