His Grace Mar Aprim Khamis, Bishop of the Diocese of the Western United States has attended a conference in Amman, Jordan between 3-4 September 2013 examining the challenges and persecution facing Christians throughout the Middle East.
His Grace attended representing His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East at the invitation of His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad on behalf of His Majesty Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. His Holiness was unable to attend personally due to a range of prearranged programmes.
The conference was attended by most Patriarchs of the Middle East, a large number of church representatives and religious leaders from around the world in addition to senior Islamic scholars from the Middle East.
On the opening day of the conference His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, Chief Advisor to King Abdullah of Jordan for Religious and Cultural Affairs opened the conference stressing the need to promote a culture of democracy and mutual respect in the Middle East.
In his remarks His Royal Highness noted:
“We in Jordan feel that, for the first time in hundreds of years, Arab Christians have become targeted in some countries; that they are suffering not only because of the blind and deaf sedition (finah) that everyone has suffered from in certain Arab countries since the beginning of what is incorrectly called ‘the Arab Spring’, but also merely because they are Christians. We reject this categorically and completely. First: we reject it according to our sacred law, as Muslims before God. Second: we reject it morally, as Arabs and as fellow tribesmen. Third: we reject it emotionally, as neighbours and dear friends. And fourth: we reject it personally, as human beings.”
His Royal Highness went on to note that Christians were in the region before Muslims and that “ … They are not strangers, nor colonialists, nor foreigners … They are natives of these lands.”
Addresses were also given by all the Patriarchs present as well as various prelates and scholars noting the ancient historical presence of Christianity in the Middle East and the integral role played by Christians in Arab civilisation. The mutual bonds that have tied Christians and Muslims together in the Middle East throughout history and the importance of maintaining these bonds was also a central theme of the important conference.
On the second day of the conference His Majesty Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan received all delegates at his official residence personally and gave a lunch in their honour.
It is also noteworthy that a significant number of Patriarchs of the Middle East were also in attendance at the conference. These included: His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, His Beatitude Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal al-Rahi, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, His Beatitude Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude John X Yazigi, Patriarch of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Theophilos II, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and His Eminence Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Tauran, President of the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.