Christian leaders dispute US report on religious freedoms in Jordan

Amman, Jordan - Church leaders in Jordan questioned Tuesday the a report by the US Department of State which claimed Jordanian authorities were abusing religious freedoms.

"Jordan provides an example of Islamic-Christian harmony as both Muslims and Christians enjoy equal rights and duties," Theophilus III, Patriarch of the Holy City, Palestine and Jordan, said in a statement.

Theophilus made the remarks in his capacity as chairman of the Council of Heads of Churches in Jordan.

The US report, issued last week, claimed that "while relations between Muslims and Christians generally were good, adherents of unrecognised religions and Muslims who converted to other religions faced societal discrimination and the threat of mental and physical abuse".

"The government continued to harass some citizens and resident foreign groups suspected of proselytising Muslims and a few Muslim coverts to Christianity, including by attempting to induce them to revert to Islam," the report said.

The Council blamed the US report for "choosing individual cases which cannot be relied upon for issuing such erroneous judgement".

"The Jordanian state has always guaranteed religious freedoms for all citizens, followers of various sects without any bias or discrimination," the statement said.

Christians form about 5 per cent of Jordan's population of about 6 million.