|The King of Jordan and his Palestinian wife|
Jordan May Be More Resilient than People Think -Clifford D. May
A visitor to Amman, Jordan's capital, cannot help but be struck by how normal - even relaxed - Jordanians appear. Jordanians look around their neighborhood and ask themselves: "Is what we have so bad? And if we throw it away, what will replace it?"
What they have is King Abdullah II, coronated 14 years ago. The king descends from the Prophet Mohammed, and it was his clan, the Hashemites, that for a millennium served as the custodians of Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest places, until the Saudis deposed them.
King Abdullah, 51, is a faithful Muslim, but he is decidedly not an Islamist. He does not believe it is the mission of Muslims of the 21st century to resurrect the seventh century, when a religion born in Arabia gave rise to armies that went on to conquer and colonize the lands of Christians and polytheists. He also understands that democratic institutions and habits must evolve - they cannot be imposed overnight in cultures where the power of ancient tribal allegiances trumps the power of new ideas.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.