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Allowing anti-diversity voices to divide humanity is profoundly dangerous — King

Mar 21,2018 - Last updated at Mar 21,2018

His Majesty King Abdullah takes part in a question-answer session at a meeting with students in The Hague on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

Following is the full speech of His Majesty King Abdullah, delivered at “World Class The Hague” in the Netherelands on Tuesday

 

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Your Majesties,

Madam Mayor,

Excellencies,

My friends,

Thank you so much for those kind words. And it is truly an honour for me to be back here. And it is no accident that when people everywhere hear the words “The Hague”, we think of justice and peace. And the World Class programme is part of your city’s inspiring commitment, especially to the future that we all share.

 So let me say, I am really especially pleased to have this opportunity to speak with students. One of the most satisfying parts of my work is always meeting and talking with your generation, a major part of Jordan’s young population, and a truly global force today. I see your energy; I see your concern for the world; and I see a generation with tremendous talent.

 And there are many ways to use that talent, and energy, and concern. And I’m here today to talk about only one of them — the deeply urgent need to help the world’s people live together in mutual respect.

 Humanity is filled with diversity — different religions, different communities, different cultures. But every day, in the news, we see anti-diversity; sectarian fears and conflicts; people excluding and maltreating those they see as “the Other”— minorities, or people of a different faith, even women, half of humankind. We hear angry, suspicious hate speech; and then, there are also these extremist groups misusing religion, in an effort to gain power over people and drive communities apart.

 And allowing these voices to divide humanity is profoundly dangerous. Our world today is hyper-connected. Global cooperation is absolutely necessary to meet our challenges, because our challenges are shared. How can any one country or group protect our borderless environment, or stop global epidemics? How can the global economy thrive, if we do not work together to heal development gaps, and stop chain-reaction recessions, or even worse? How can we protect our people, if we do not respond, in unity, to the regional crises that spread desperation and violence worldwide?

 And how can we do any of it, if we don’t understand that humanity is one?

 And I’ve always been puzzled when moral life is seen as somehow separate from the hard realities of economics, and politics, and technology. How we live and work together depends on morality, depends on how we live up to our values. And our values support the coexistence that is the only way, in a complex world, that our countries and peoples can survive and prosper. And I’m talking about mutual respect, tolerance, and compassion. These are my values, as a Muslim. I share them with billions of my fellow Muslims around the globe and throughout Islam’s history. And we are obviously not alone. And I have no doubt that the Golden Rule, to treat others as you would be treated, was a principle taught to every one of you here today. 

Indeed, the three monotheistic faiths, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, as well as other world religions, have in common these two, greatest commandments: to love God and love our neighbour. And there is no better guide to the peace and justice our world deserves. And students, your generation, has a central role; not only because you are humanity’s future, but because, in our rapidly changing world, you are already a driving force. You have the keys to the car, and we need you to steer us as well.

 So please allow me to suggest a few points for our compass.

 First — and this may seem easy to you, but it is, in reality, not easy at all — and it is that I hope you will continue to do what you are doing, working to understand our world. And this knowledge begins when we come together, in groups like this World Class programme, where we bridge differences of culture and background in a dialogue of respect. And that cannot happen unless we speak and listen to each other with sincerity and acceptance.

 Jordan has worked extensively to bring people together in new knowledge of each other, through the Amman Message, through A Common Word, through the World Interfaith Harmony Week. Each of you has a role to play, also. Take what you learn here in World Class, and put it to work to your community, your classroom, your sports groups, your workplace. Find that person you don’t know, someone of a different faith or background; talk and listen with respect; continue the dialogue. Because you are building the links that hold the world together.

 Second, keep a healthy suspicion of those who have abandoned the path of dialogue, who tell you the truth is only for the select few, or who try to detour you into the dark corners of the web, or the dead-end that is hate. Truth is light; it is there for all to see and share.

 As a Muslim, I can tell you that Muslims are absolutely horrified to see our faith abused and mischaracterised, whether by outlaw groups inside of Islam or Islamophobes. Islam teaches the equal dignity of all human beings. We are taught to recognise our shared humanity, in all its diversity.

 The Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him, taught: None of you believes until he or she loves for thy neighbour what they love for themselves. And he told us: The All-Merciful is merciful to those who are merciful. Have mercy upon those on earth, and He who is in heaven will be merciful unto you.

 Those who lie about our faith, or any faith, should never be allowed to divide our world. And the fact is, the threat today is not from any clash of civilisations or religions. The threat is from those who attack our shared future, through poisonous ideologies of hate. And in this fight, all moderates — of all faiths, of all countries, all ethnic groups — are on the same side.

 And finally, is the importance of acting on our shared values. It is our own responsibility, not someone else’s, to insist on tolerance and mutual respect, in day-to-day life, as well as in the future that we are all trying to building. Each one of you, as a citizen and as a neighbour, can be a role model of compassion and leadership, and help your communities and groups act with fairness as well as respect. Each one of you can speak out when you see mistreatment of others — or experience it yourself. And each one of you can help spread the values on which our world depends.

 I know, from the fact that all of you are here today, that you all care about global problems. Each of you, and other young men and women around the world, can take that concern and make a difference. It is you who can energise the international community to act on our shared values, whether in supporting sustainable development, or addressing environmental threats, or finding inclusive political solutions to the regional conflicts that have caused desperate refugees to flee.

 But above all, we must fight the exclusion of any people, especially young people, from the promise of our age. Let us give everyone a stake in a future of justice, mutual respect, and prosperity, as well as peace.

 Jordanians acted on our values of compassion when millions of Syrian refugees fled the violence in their country beginning in 2011. We currently have 1.3 million Syrian refugees — and that’s one for every five Jordanians — and this is in addition to millions of other refugees from other crises. Now, we depend on our friends to act on their values, to relieve our over-burdened people and give them hope for the future, and also to prevent a lost generation among Syria’s future citizens. And here, Your Majesties, I’m tremendously grateful for the role that your country has played in being a partner for us and being able to help us through our challenges. Truly, to you and to your people a sincere thanks.

 Global action on shared values is also critical especially when it comes to ending conflict. The failure to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli crisis has created mistrust worldwide, fuelling instability and radicalisation. Young Palestinians want to know, why does not global justice apply to them? They, and their Israeli counterparts, deserve a lasting peace that will set their futures free.

 That won’t come by one side taking unilateral actions; nor will it come by threats to the holy city of Jerusalem, which must be a unifying city of peace. We have a sacred duty, as Hashemite Custodians, to protect Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, and I will continue to do my utmost to protect these sites and the historic character of the city. But I believe the entire international community has a duty to join together to support respect and justice for all.

 My friends, respected students,

 Today’s global challenges are very real. But never lose confidence in your power to change our world for the good. Your voices are already defining and describing our world for millions, if not billions, of others. You are the app users and developers; the artists the writers; the teachers-to-be, founders of start-ups; the innovators and the influencers.

 So use your knowledge and technologies as paths to a better world. And let your shared values illuminate the way ahead. And help us all walk away from disrespect and ignorance. Take the world in a better direction, and help shape the better future you all truly deserve.

Thank you.

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