The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan forms part of the Holy Land. Roughly 2.2 percent of Jordan’s 7.9 million people are Christians. Jordan has been a refuge for Christians fleeing religious persecution in the Middle East for decades. Jordan, like Lebanon, has welcomed significant numbers of refugees – more than 660,000 Syrian refugees from Northern Iraq and Syria. The number of Christians amongst these refugees is uncertain. (Many Christians do not feel safe in UN refugee camps and do not register with UNHCR.)
Jordan’s monarch, King Abdullah II, has been an outspoken advocate for Christians in the Middle East. However, Christian communities are not free from danger and persecution in Jordan. Jordan’s state religion is Islam, and Shari’a law has primacy for Muslims in matters of personal or family status. This means that in legal cases wherein one party is Muslim and the other Christian, the case is decided according to Shari’a, which can result in discrimination against Christians. In addition, extremism has risen in recent years in Jordan: More than 2,000 Jordanians have joined extremist groups, and the nation has suffered terrorist attacks. While the attacks do not directly target Christians, the rise in terrorism and the growing number of violent extremists from Jordan highlight disturbing trends that may threaten the Christian presence in Jordan.