We at The Fellowship continue our efforts to support Christians in Jordan who have fled bitter persecution by Islamist terrorists. Want to know more about this Arab state that shares a border with Israel? Here are nine facts that will help you better understand Jordan and the situation for Christians there.
1. Islam is the official religion in Jordan. About 97 percent of the population is Muslim.
2. Jordan is one of two Arab states that officially recognizes and has full diplomatic relations with Israel.
3. Jordan is about four times the size of Israel in terms of land mass, though its population is only 2 million greater than the Jewish state (approximately 10 million vs. 8 million, respectively).
4. Many Arab Christian communities in the Middle East, including in Jordan, can trace their faith back to the times of Jesus, and still speak and pray in ancient Syriac and Aramaic languages.
5. Jordan allows a relative degree of freedom of religion compared to other Arab states. Hundreds of thousands of Christians fleeing radical Islamist persecution in neighboring Iraq and Syria have come to Jordan seeking refuge. Nearly 1 out of every 10 people in Jordan is a refugee from Syria or Iraq.
6. But their lives are still difficult and full of challenges. Iraqi Christian refugees cannot legally work in Jordan. The law lacks clarity, barring most refugees from working. Many are employed in black market positions due to lack of work permits or residency.
7. In Jordan, former Muslims who have converted to Christianity report abuse and discrimination for practicing their faith.
8. Other Christians have been interrogated about their religious beliefs by public officials. Some worship in secret to avoid scrutiny.
9. Jordanian security forces devote extra resources to protect Christian neighborhoods and churches during holidays and special events.