Father Nabil Haddad is founder and executive director of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center (JICRC) in Amman, Jordan. JICRC is an interfaith organization that promotes peace-building based on shared religious values and human rights principles through public events, educational initiatives, and participation in interreligious dialogues, nationally and internationally. Haddad is a priest in the Melkite Catholic Church in Jordan. He was interviewed by phone in June by former Sojourners assistant editor Jeannie Choi.
Sojourners: Tell us about the history of Christianity in Jordan.
Nabil Haddad: I belong to the Arab Christian community in Jordan, which dates back 2,000 years. Actually, you’ll find evidence of this conversion in Acts 2, when the Arabs were present during the day of Pentecost. Arabs were there!
These Arabs continued to exist in this part of this world and carry a Christian witness between the time of the Roman Empire and the Byzantines. In the seventh century we were the ones who had to coexist with the newly established Arab Islamic state, and this continued until nowadays, when unfortunately the Arab Christian community is emigrating from this part of the world.
Why are Christians emigrating from the Middle East? First of all, for economic reasons and seeking a better life for their children. The other reason is the lack of tranquility, the lack of civility, and the invasion of tourism culture. Also, due to the war we have seen in this part of the world—in Iraq—Arab Christians are finding that their existence here is at risk.