In the Second Part of Al Arabiya Interview, Queen Rania Talks about Stereotypes of Muslims in the West, Arab Women, Family, and Being Queen

October 28, 2013

(Office of Her Majesty – Press Department – Amman) - In the second part of her interview with Al Arabiya Network, which aired Monday night across the Arab world, Queen Rania called on Muslims to denounce acts of violence in the name of Islam and reject radical and divisive discourse. The interview also tackled globalization and tradition, her family life and her role as a Queen. Her Majesty, for the first time, reacted to criticism of her and her family during the Arab Spring.

Speaking with Al Arabiya network primetime anchor Muntaha Al Ramahi, Queen Rania acknowledged that criticism is part and parcel of public life and that public figures must expect to be placed under a microscope. As such "successes resonate loudly and failures may resonate even louder," she said.

"I support responsible criticism, and every, any piece of advice someone gives me, I take into consideration and react to it, even if it is hurtful," the Queen noted. However, Her Majesty drew a distinction between criticism based on truth or even rational perspectives and criticism based on rumors and misinformation. “There were some falsifications and exaggerations - rumors circulating with absolutely no foundation of truth, but circulating as if they were facts.”

"There were rumors that touched my integrity and questioned the principles that I was raised on, rumors that also reached the closest people to me, my family, without any shred of truth. And these of course hurt me and were difficult to deal with to some extent."

In response to a question about Her Majesty's 2008 YouTube campaign, in which she launched a series of self-published videos tackling stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims in the West, Queen Rania stressed the importance of combating ignorance about Islam, and addressing prevalent misconceptions in the West. “Sadly, the stereotypical image of Islam is that it is a religion of hatred, a religion of violence … we must take this issue seriously because this stereotype is the furthest possible from the truth. Islam to millions of Muslims around the world is a religion of human values and principles of goodness.”

Queen Rania added that even the language used by some when talking about Islam is sometimes reductionist. "I see erroneous categorizations of Islam. They say ‘moderate Islam’ and ‘radical Islam’. Today, there is no moderate or radical Islam. Islam by nature is moderate … But there are radical interpretations of it."

Her Majesty further warned about the damaging and increasingly loud voices of incitement, hatred and division in today’s discourse in the Arab world.

"Islam, and all monotheistic faiths, are based on mercy … But the religious discourse that dominates today, as a result of its loudness, is hostage to Fatwas of takfeer, zealotry and closed-mindedness on the one hand, and to calls for radicalism, hatred, and sectarian strife (fitna) on the other."

Referring to acts of violence committed in the name of Islam, the Queen called on the Muslim world to condemn such acts: "We must denounce, decry and raise our voices in condemnation of such actions, not with shy voices, but with loud voices. Not to polish our image in the West or to appease them, but because our religion deserves this from us."

Asked if she feels that she represents Arab women, Her Majesty noted that Arab women are diverse do not fit into one single mold. Her Majesty lamented the fact that while the Arab world has made massive investments in female education; it has yet to reap the rewards with the rate of female unemployment in the region being one of the highest in the world.

“Maybe we hear this often but I would like to reassert that it is impossible for any nation to fulfill its potential if half of its inherent capacity is inactive and unproductive.”

Her Majesty weighed in on a question about concerns that openness to the West threatens Arab and Muslim values and culture, saying that globalization is an inescapable reality. Her Majesty added that some of the attitudes towards this issue in the region stand at either of two extremes: “complete isolation and a rejection of all that is new just because it is new” on one end, or an “infatuation with western cultures accompanied by unaware, irresponsible and blind imitation” on the other.

The Queen emphasized the need to find a third way, a moderate path "that says I am an Arab and a Muslim and I hold on to and am proud of all the traditions and values that come with that. But, at the same time, I want to be a part of the world around me, to interact with it.”

Talking about her engagement in several international forums, Her Majesty highlighted the urgent need for Arab presence and representation of Arab perspectives on the international arena.

"It is very important that we speak for ourselves, and not leave a vacuum that allows others to speak on our behalf. We have to narrate our story in our own voice so that it can be authentic and representative of us.”

Later in the interview, the Queen recalled the day HRH Crown Prince Hussein was born, "28th of June, 1994; this is a date I will never forget because it is the day I became a mother for the first time."

"I think that all mothers who are watching us now know that we share an invisible link, and this connection comes from knowing what it means for a mother to love her child and how a mother fears for her children, and how when you have a child, your life is no longer your own but becomes someone else’s."

Her Majesty also talked about her family life and how His Majesty King Abdullah II and she spend their time with their children; "the dinner table always brings us together". She added that weekends are also very important to them as a family, "we always have lunch together. His Majesty always enjoys watching TV, like soccer matches and other things with the kids.”

Concluding the interview, Queen Rania explained what being ‘Queen’ meant to her: "It is a big responsibility and a great honor." She added that "like there is Rania the Queen, there is Rania the mother, the daughter, the friend, the wife. And in all these roles, I am no different to any other woman; I share the same fear, the same challenges, and the same concerns."