As sectarian strife engulfs neighbouring Mideast countries, Jordan’s King Abdullah II invited Catholic and other leaders to celebrate Christmas in the spirit of fraternity and harmony the holiday symbolises.
When the moderate Muslim leader ascended the throne in 1999, he declared Christmas a holiday to be celebrated by Jordanian Christians and Muslims alike.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joined the 18th December gathering in downtown Amman, together with Catholic and other Christian clergy and laypeople as well as Muslims from across Jordan and the Palestinian territories.
Lively carols, performed by the Jordanian Catholic Fountain of Love choir, and sacred holiday songs, including Ave Maria, performed by other Arab artists, captivated the participants.
“We are very happy with this meeting and with His Majesty the king who says: ‘Merry Christmas’ to the Christian community,” Fr Rifat Bader told Catholic News Service. “Christmas is for everybody.”
Picture: Jordan’s King Abdullah II, second from right, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, centre, and Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II greet Christians during Christmas celebrations hosted by the Jordanian monarch at the King Hussein Cultural Center in Amman on 18th December. (CNS photo/Dale Gavlak).