Muslim youth in Jordan launched an initiative yesterday to protect churches during worship for Easter. Following the bombings in Egypt on Palm Sunday, Muslims wanted to act in solidarity and “underline the unity of Jordanians and to give everyone the freedom to practise their religion without restraints or fear,” according to Fayez Ruqeidi, a resident of Balqa. The initiative was kicked off by a tweet by Kazem Kharabsheh, who said, “On Sunday, our Christian brothers and sisters will be in churches [performing] religious [rituals], [and] extremists [are] threatening our national security… My Muslim friends and I will be in Balqa Governorate, protecting its churches and people.” Muslim residents made commitments to stand in front of churches to protect Christians celebrating Easter inside. There have been no direct threats against churches in Jordan, however, Daesh/ISIS has made many threats against the kingdom as a whole. Security checkpoints have been installed on the gates of churches around the country, a move that has been accepted by Christians as necessary. Jordanian Muslims emphasized the diversity of Jordan as an important piece of their identity; “We are always proud to say Jordan is made up of harmonious pieces of mosaics; it’s truly sad to see such security measures taken out of necessity in Jordan. We live in a small country and we know everyone here,” Amman resident Hala Saadi told The Jordan Times.
Jordan has some of the oldest communities of Christians, some dating back to the first century CE. Today, Christians make up approximately 4% of the population, and most are Greek Orthodox, although there are also Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. There has been an influx of Christian refugees into Jordan, fleeing Daesh/ISIS from Mosul in Iraq, and also Syria.