Skip to comments.For Christian enclave in Jordan, tribal lands are sacred
Posted on 05/11/2009 2:48:38 PM PDT by forkinsocket
Reporting from Fuhays, Jordan -- Michel Hattar's father was a priest in Jerusalem in 1947 when word arrived from the rocky Jordanian hills that he must renounce his vows and marry to protect his tribe's land and inheritances.
He did as he was told. He broke from the holy order he had known for 20 years to wed the bride picked by his family, his first cousin, Widad. Today their son Michel lives on a bluff of olive groves and fig trees that slopes toward the valley that his Fuhays tribe has farmed and fought over for more than four centuries.
This Christian enclave west of the Jordanian capital, Amman, is ringed with steeples and religious devotion, but for every Bible parable there is a tribal tale, usually one that ends with someone outfoxed or dead. Clan loyalty sets boundaries, keeps the peace and runs on customs, such as sprinkling extra salt into a meal to let a guest know he is welcome. If there's no salt, it's wise to make a hasty exit.
Hattar, a balding man with white hair and dark eyebrows, sits in his home near a statue of the Virgin Mary. There's wind and anticipation outside. Pope Benedict XVI is in Jordan on a three-day pilgrimage to improve relations between Christians and Muslims. Hattar says that's a noble effort, if perhaps more spiritual than practical, and besides, the pope is too friendly with the Jews across the border in Israel.
"You know, coexisting with Muslims is difficult," he says, choosing his words so as to convey truth but not offend. It is the way of conversation here, to let nuance reach the heart. "Muslims don't accept others. They want everyone like them. We show them friendship.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
“We don’t sell land to Muslims. We don’t want mosques amidst us,” he says. “Once, in the 1960s, a Christian man from the tribe wanted to sell his land to a Muslim. The priest gathered other men and they went to this man’s house. They asked him, ‘Why are you doing this?’ He told him he needed money, 10,000 dinars. The priest and the men gave him 10,000 dinars and then they beat him and threatened to kill him if he ever sold land to a Muslim.”
That might be called “constructive intervention.”