Following the bomb attacks on two churches in Egypt last week, Muslim youth activists in Jordan vowed to protect Christian places of worship on Easter Sunday.
Kazem Kharabsheh, an organizer of the solidarity initiative that saw people from around the country participate, wrote before Easter, “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.”
While Jordan has faced no direct threats against its churches, the Islamic State group has been issuing threats against the kingdom as a whole.
Another participant of the solidarity move, Fayez Ruqeidi, from the same region of Balqa, told The Jordan Times that the vigilante act was meant to “underline the unity of Jordanians and to give everyone the freedom to practice their religion without restraints or fear.”
In Madaba prior to Easter Sunday, Hazem Al Fouqaha told the outlet that many Muslim residents will stand as guards in front of churches to ensure the safety of Christians inside.
Activists in Ajloun participated in order to “show the world the harmony and conviviality in Jordan” and, they added, to fight against extremism, xenophobia and radicalism.
“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, where activists also mobilized, told The Jordan Times.
Several security checkpoints were also installed in the gates of some churches around the country, as further protection measures.
The April 9 bomb attacks in Egypt first saw munitions tear through Saint George Church in Tanta, a Nile Delta city about 60 miles north of Cairo, during its Palm Sunday service, killing at least 27 people and injuring at least 78, the Ministry of Health said.
The second, carried out a few hours later by a suicide bomber in Alexandria, hit Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 17 people, including three police officers, and injuring 48, the ministry added.
Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah released a statement after that attack condemning the practice of targeting Christians in the Middle East.