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The King of Jordan, Abdullah II, visited Australia this week, where he signed a historic counter-terrorism agreement with the Australian government.

Jordan plays a vital role combating ISIS in neighbouring Iraq and Syria. King Abdullah II holds immense political and legislative power in the country and he was ranked second in the 2017 edition of the World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims.

During his visit, he took some time to speak with ABC’s Lateline, where he discussed the election of Donald Trump, the global refugee crisis and the relationship between Muslims and Christians.

“Do they (Christians) know that we believe Jesus Christ to be the messiah?” he said.

“The Virgin Mary is mentioned I think about 35 times in our Quran, only 25 times in the Bible, but the Bible is a lot bigger. Moses is mentioned 130 times in the Quran.

“So you have to understand that a true Muslim would believe in the Bible, the Torah, as well as the Quran.”

King Abdullah II announced this year he would use his own funds to pay for the restoration of the Jesus’s tomb in Jerusalem.

Jordan is home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, which coexists peacefully alongside the Muslim majority that make up 92 per cent of the country.

The King said it is imperative for faith communities to unite in the fight against the ‘khawarij of Islam’, the minority of extremists who commit violent atrocities.

“You know from the traditional schools of Islam it is almost impossible for any of us to put a bomb on ourselves and think it’s a good thing to blow yourself up in a marketplace and kill innocent people,” he said.

“These people that we’re dealing with are just the enemy of all of us because they have no concept of what religion is about.

“We’re actually all in the same trench – Muslims, Christians and Jews – against what I keep calling the ‘outlaws of our religion’.”

In recent years, the emergence of far-right groups in Europe, the US and Australia has seen an increase in anti-refugee and anti-Islam sentiment. The King warns against adopting an ‘us against them’ mentality, which he believes will lead to further division and conflict.

“It falls right into the lap of what the extremists, the khawarij, the outlaws of Islam want because they feel that the only way that they can get global supremacy is to take the 90 per cent of moderate Sunnis, make them feel isolated, picked on and marginalised so that they are shifted over to the radical camp,” King Abdullah II explained.

“So the more that you get these extremist statements said all over the world, we’re actually doing exactly what the khawarij want.”

The Uniting Church is committed to supporting interfaith relationships and rejecting extremists of all stripes who would seek to divide.

Research from Deakin University suggests the more Australians know about Islam, the less prejudice they have against Muslims. The moderator Sharon Hollis released a pastoral statement in September where she reaffirmed the need to challenge Islamophobia through interfaith dialogue.

On this week’s Friday Forum: how do we challenge extremism and avoid an ‘us versus them’ mentality?

Image: United Nations Photo/Flickr

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