King Abdullah of Jordan slams ‘hate-filled outlaws of Islam’

Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob welcomes Jordan's King Abdullah in Singapore on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 21 June 2019

King Abdullah of Jordan slams ‘hate-filled outlaws of Islam’

  • Jordanian ruler sounds warning on rising religious and political extremism

AMMAN / SINGAPORE: Attacks on interfaith harmony, mutual respect and trust are the “world’s single most important threat,” King Abdullah of Jordan warned.

Speaking on Thursday at the International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS) in Singapore, Jordan’s monarch condemned both “outlaws of Islam and extremist Islamophobes.”

“Perpetuators of hate-filled messages are distorting our religion’s great heritage and teachings,” he said.

King Abdullah called on the global community to tackle this challenge by “resisting hatred and exclusion,” supporting economic growth and protecting the environment.

In a keynote speech, the Jordanian ruler urged 700 delegates from 40 countries to apply the golden rule. “Loving one’s neighbor is not just an ideal. It is the golden rule that enables all of us to live side by side, to look beyond ourselves, and to achieve what we can only achieve in common.”

The conference was organized by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) with the support of Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Ong Keng Yong, executive deputy chairman of RSIS, described the Singapore conference as a platform for constructive dialogue to strengthen mutual trust and understanding across communities.

“Singapore is a multiracial, multi-religious society, and we work hard to keep our country peaceful and secure. At the same time, we are part of the global community, which faces challenges posed by increased connectivity, intensifying identity politics, and infinite technological development,” he said.

King Abdullah listed Jordanian efforts including the Amman Message, the Common Word Initiative, and UN World Interfaith week.

However, when it comes to hate speech on the internet, solutions are not exclusively the responsibility of governments and big companies, he said.

“In a very real way, the internet belongs to its users. Moderate, positive voices need to reclaim this space and redirect the dialogue away from misinformation, insults and fear, and toward understanding and respect. Young men and women have a vital role in speaking up on social media and social networking sites, and using their talent for innovation to promote mutual understanding and hope.”

The Jordanian monarch also called for a “holistic approach to address security and the issues that extremists exploit.”

Perpetuators of hate-filled messages are distorting our religion’s great heritage and teachings.

King Abdullah

“We must also help to resolve conflicts, especially the core crisis of my region, the long denial of Palestinian statehood. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has fueled global discord and radicalism. We all need a lasting peace, meeting the needs of both sides, with a viable, independent, sovereign Palestinian state, on 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, but living side by side with Israel, in peace and security.

“We must safeguard Jerusalem, a holy city to billions of people around the world. As Hashemite Custodian of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, I am bound by a special duty. But for all of us, Jerusalem must be a unifying city of peace.”

“King Abdullah is in a very difficult spot,” said Dr. James M. Dorsey, a Middle East expert and senior fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Dorsey said the king’s speech reflects the geographical situation his country is facing.

“Every single border of his country is conflict-risk and impacts the country’s stability. If there is one country that desperately needs to get away from polarization and conflict and move toward conflict resolution, it is Jordan.”

Other speakers are the conference include Dr. Ali Al-Nuaimi, chairman of the World Muslim Communities Council; Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue; Dr. Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, deputy mufti and senior director at Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura; and John Alderdice, former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Over the weekend, Singaporeans can experience key elements of the conference through a series of “Heartland Dialogues and Experiences” at locations across the city. These include “learning journeys” and opportunities to speak with conference speakers.

In parallel with the conference, the “Many Beliefs, One Future” exhibition explores human connections across different beliefs through a collection of artworks and artifacts. 

The exhibition is open until June 13 at the Raffles City Shopping Center.

“We must also help to resolve conflicts, especially the core crisis of my region, the long denial of Palestinian statehood. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has fueled global discord and radicalism. We all need a lasting peace, meeting the needs of both sides, with a viable, independent, sovereign Palestinian state, on 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, but living side by side with Israel, in peace and security.

“We must safeguard Jerusalem, a holy city to billions of people around the world. As Hashemite Custodian of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, I am bound by a special duty. But for all of us, Jerusalem must be a unifying city of peace.”

“King Abdullah is in a very difficult spot,” said Dr. James M. Dorsey, a Middle East expert and a senior fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

Speaking with Arab News Dr. Dorsey said the king’s speech reflects the geographical situation his country is facing.

“Every single border of his country is conflict-risk and has an impact on the stability of Jordan. If there is one country that desperately needs to get away from the polarization and conflict and toward conflict resolution, it is Jordan.”

Other speakers are the conference include Dr. Ali Al-Nuaimi, chairman of the World Muslim Communities Council; Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue; Dr. Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, deputy mufti and senior director at Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura; and John Alderdice, former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Over the weekend, Singapore people can experience key elements of the conference through a series of “Heartland Dialogues and Experiences” at locations across the city. These include “learning journeys” and opportunities to speak with conference speakers.

In parallel with the conference, the “Many Beliefs, One Future” exhibition explores human connections across different beliefs through a collection of artworks and artefacts. The exhibition is open until June 13 at the Raffles City Shopping Center.


Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated from Libya

Updated 14 November 2019

Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated from Libya

DHAKA: One hundred and seventy-one Bangladeshi migrants are waiting to be repatriated from two detention centers in Libya after being rescued from the Mediterranean coast on Oct. 30 as they tried to make their way into Europe, officials told Arab News on Wednesday. 

In all, 200 migrants were rescued during the operation.

“The registration process of all the Bangladeshi migrants has been completed and we are expecting to start the repatriation by the end of November,” ASM Ashraful Islam, councilor at the Bangladesh embassy in Libya, said.

He added that, due to the ongoing war in Libya, airports in Tripoli remain non-operational. The Bangladeshi migrants will fly from Misrata airport, 300 kilometers away.

“There are frequent incidents of bombardment and long-range missile strikes (at Tripoli airport),” Islam explained. He said no international airline was currently willing to fly from Libya to Bangladesh, so the embassy intends to charter a flight to repatriate the migrants.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will bear the expenses for the rescued Bangladeshis, who are currently being held at detention centers in Zanzur and Abu Salim, he said, adding, “Bangladesh mission staffers in Tripoli are in constant touch with the returnees and providing necessary food and other assistance for them.”

In recent years, human traffickers have used Libya as a gateway through which to send illegal migrants to Italy and other European countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency — Frontex — around 30,000 Bangladeshi migrants have been arrested while trying to enter Europe in the last decade. The organization said that, in recent years, Bangladesh is one of the countries from which the most illegal migrants have tried to enter Europe. The IOM has facilitated the repatriation of Bangladeshi citizens from Libya in the past — 924 in 2017, 307 in 2016, and 521 in 2015.

“Among unemployed Bangladeshi fortune seekers, there is a (desire) to migrate to Europe by any means, and human-trafficking syndicates at home and abroad (have grabbed) this opportunity,” Shariful Hasan, head of the migration program at the Bangladesh-based development organization BRAC, told Arab News. “There needs to be an integrated effort by all concerned countries, with the support of Interpol, to curb this human trafficking.”