In excerpts from a recent interview published this week by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Jordan’s Queen Rania called on Muslims to defend their religion from extremism and fanaticism, and urged for greater opportunities for young people across the Arab world.
The Kuwaiti-born daughter of Palestinians told al-Arabiya TV in late October that “Arab youth today live in two different worlds — the real world and the virtual world.”
In the virtual world “they develop a certain personality and identity for themselves, they communicate with others, they express themselves freely and comfortably,” she said. “When they leave their computers, they return to the real world, and they see that nobody cares about what they have to say, that they enjoy no freedom, have no real choices, and that their hands are tied.”
She called on the Arab world “to bridge the gap between the two worlds.”
In the interview, the queen, wife of King Abdullah II, cautioned against the prevailing global image of Islam as a religion of terrorism, saying that Muslims should highlight the positive nature of their faith.
“For the millions of Muslims worldwide, Islam is a religion of humanitarian values and of the principles of goodness. We need to try to highlight this image of Islam.”
Rania also took the opportunity to speak out against Islamic extremism.
“The religious discourse that we hear so loud today has fallen hostage to fatwas of takfir, of fanaticism, and of ideological closed-mindedness, as well as to calls for extremism, for hatred, and for sectarian strife,” she said.
“What ever happened to the language of compassion? With the discourse, we harm ourselves much more than the West harms us. We must return to the essence of our religion. We must speak loud and clear in defending our religion. When we see people distorting the image of our religion.
“A few months ago, for example, we saw a man who calls himself a Muslim killing an innocent man in Britain, grabbing his decapitated head, and saying: ‘This is for the nation.’ What nation?!
“We must renounce things like that. We must denounce this loudly, not cautiously. We should do so not in order to improve our image in the West, but because we owe this to our religion.”
The 43-year-old royal has championed numerous public initiatives in Jordan and beyond.
She has been a vocal advocate for cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue, but in 2010, she made headlines when she refused to have her bestselling children’s book published in Hebrew. Rania turned down several such offers, according to Haaretz, despite the fact that the book was about two girls getting over cultural prejudices to become friends.