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August 25, 2016 5:17 am

Jordanian Prince, Jewish Academic Call on Muslims, Jews to Unite Against ‘Savage’ ISIS Assault on Christians

avatar by Lea Speyer

An ISIS terrorist. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

An ISIS terrorist. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A Jordanian prince and a Jewish academic are calling on Jews and Muslims to unite in religious tolerance to stop the spread of ISIS-perpetrated hatred against Christians in the Middle East.

In an op-ed in the UK’s Telegraph on Tuesday, Prince Hassan of Jordan, founder and president of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, and Dr. Ed Kessler, director of the Woolf Institute, wrote that Christianity is an “essential fabric” of the Middle East. As a Muslim and a Jew, respectively, they wrote that they find it “abhorrent…to see Christianity and Christians under such savage assault across our region.”

“We are appalled not only by the sickening attacks on our fellow human beings. We also know that to lose Christianity from its birthplace would be to destroy the richness of the tapestry of the Middle East and a hammer blow to our shared heritage,” they wrote.

ISIS, the prince and Kessler wrote, use religious texts to justify their persecution of Christians and other minorities. They “peddle an apocalyptic vision that harks back to a mythic Golden Age which is solely the creation of the warped minds of today’s jihadists,” they wrote. The terror group’s “search for religious purity,” they added, “poses a universal threat.”

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With ISIS “increasingly deny[ing]” the rights of Christians and “tak[ing] the lead both in justifying and carrying out” attacks against the Christian community, Hassan and Kessler said Jews and Muslims have a religious and moral duty to step in.

“Helping to end this dangerous slide towards hatred, self-destruction and fratricidal conflict is the main challenge for all of us involved in interfaith dialogue,” the pair wrote. “This requires us to step up our efforts to increase understanding that what unites the three great faiths of our region is far greater than any differences.”

Hassan and Kessler believe it is imperative to “counter their [ISIS’s] divisive message which, in the wrong hands, can be read as a license for bigotry and violence,” adding that religious texts “must be seen in context” and “offer a contrasting approach.”

“A better understanding of the sacred writings of other faiths may help us see the paradoxes and conflicts that we can fail to acknowledge on our own,” Hassan and Kessler wrote. “Above all, we must emphasize the importance of interpretation, which is central and common to all the Abrahamic faiths. This provides us with the ability to deal with texts that run contrary to what we regard as the fundamental values of our tradition.”

Citing the Islamic teaching of “haq el hurriya and haq el karama” — “the right to freedom and the right to human dignity” — alongside the Judaic teaching of “pikuach nefesh” — a command which teaches that the preservation of life comes before all other commandments — Hassan and Kessler said it is time to “halt the hate and atrocities” rocking the Middle East.

“Peace and humanity itself hang upon the success of this interfaith exercise,” they concluded. “It is that important.”

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