In Germany on Saturday to accept the Westphalian Peace Prize, Jordanian King Abdullah II told Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German people that “without all of you the world would not be where we are today and we would be in a much worse position.”
“I see, unfortunately, too often, among western officials and opinion leaders, a dangerous lack of understanding of the true nature of Islam. Extremists – on all sides – use that lack of knowledge to polarize societies and drive us apart,: the monarch said. “Far from benefiting a country or community, this division harms us all.”
Abdullah asked to audience to “imagine what the future would look like if we don’t take a stand for each other.”
“If we ignore distant violence and poverty, as if it has nothing to do with our lives, our countries, our economies? If we close our eyes to the worst global refugee crisis in human history, and let a ‘lost generation’, millions of young people, come of age without hope?” he said. “If we let the future belong, not to law, but to outlaws: mass murder, persecution, the abuse of children, the enslavement of women, videoed executions of those who disagree? No. To such a future, we must say no.”
Jordan has absorbed about 1.4 million Syrian refugees, while Germany has taken in more than 600,000.
The king called for “collective action” to “end the regional crises and vulnerabilities that terrorists exploit.”
“Muslim-majority countries in the Balkans need to be integrated into an inclusive Europe, and supported in keeping the door shut against terrorist groups. They are your family, your frontline,” Abdullah argued.
He called for a peace process “that engages all components of the Syrian people, upholds Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, ends suffering, and brings hope.”
Abdullah also advocated “a Peace and Stability Pact for the Levant – a pact that will encompass not only a code of conduct, but enhanced regional cooperation, and a regional fund for cohesion to address the serious socioeconomic challenges our people face.”
The king admitted that the influx of Syrian refugees in his country “has put unprecedented pressures on the essentials of life: jobs, energy, housing, even water” and “is draining a quarter of our entire national budget.” Adding in Palestinians, Iraqis, Libyans, Yemenis, etc., “makes Jordan the biggest host of refugees in the world.”
“It is wrong for Jordanians to be asked to carry such a refugee burden,” he said, stressing the crisis “demands global, collective action, to share the burden and support host communities and refugees alike.”
On fighting terror groups, Abudllah said “the Golden Commandment, to love our neighbor, guides our global responsibilities – and it must guide interfaith relationships as well.”
“Nothing serves the interests of global terror groups, more than our fear and misunderstanding of each other,” he continued. “Know that Daesh and its kind are outlaws of Islam we call khawarej. They manipulate and distort Islam’s teachings to justify appalling acts, acts condemned by traditional Islam and Muslims everywhere. In the end these khawarej, the outlaws of Islam, are less than a drop in the ocean of good Muslim citizens, here and in every region.”
Abdullah added: “Let us not be divided. Let us apply our own fresh thinking – as, today, we honour those who did so in the past – to build mutual respect, cooperation and peace.”
“Humanity is most strong, our values are most safe, when all people, of all faiths, share in the life and rights and hopes of their countries,” he said. “When we do that, we create a future of peace for all humankind.”
At the award ceremony in Muenster, German President Joachim Gauck told Abdullah, “You and your people have set the standard for humanitarianism and humanity.”