Figel stressed the need to aid countries at the frontlines of conflicts that involve religious persecution and mass refugee displacement.
“Europe should provide more cooperation and assistance, as there are countries, like Jordan, that cannot sustain the flow of refugees that is coming to their lands,” Figel said. “Jordan did not close its borders, it is open to refugees from Syria and Iraq, and needs and deserves more EU support and comprehensive cooperation.”
Figel has focused on the plight of Christians in the Middle East in his own work. For his first official overseas trip, he visited Jordan Oct. 18-19, meeting with representatives of government and religious and civil society leaders.
The EU envoy praised Jordanian Muslim leaders’ work against extremism.
Authorities in Jordan “are very much committed in dialogue and action against radicalization, violence and extremism,” Figel said.
This is despite “an increasing climate of tensions” following the assassination of Nahed Attam, a Christian writer killed Sept. 25 because he shared a cartoon on Islam deemed offensive.
Figel praised the Jordanian commitment to fighting the Islamic State, known locally as Daesh.
“Jordan is a member of anti-Daesh coalition,” he said.
The country’s work is also cultural. It puts into action “significant initiatives to show that Islam is a moderate religion beyond any extremist interpretations.”
The EU envoy praised Jordanian initiatives for dialogue like the Amman Message, which King Abdullah II of Jordan issued in 2004 as a call for tolerance and unity in the Muslim world.
The message recognized eight legal schools across various branches of Islam, rebuked sectarian attitudes like declaring other Muslims apostate, and set conditions to counter illegitimate edicts issued in the name of Islam; it drew support from 200 Islamic scholars from more than 50 countries.
Jordan also backed the 2009 letter “A Common Word Between Us and You,” a response to the controversy following Benedict XVI’s 2005 Regensburg speech that discussed Islam, religion and reason.
With Benedict XVI’s initiative, the letter grew into a forum that meets every three years. The endeavor aims to find common ground of dialogue between Catholicism and Islam. The initiative’s facilitator is Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, the king’s first cousin.
King Abdullah and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad also launched the World Interfaith Harmony Week, marked in the first week of February.