A Garden of the Good in Jordan

by Martina Landi

The Sharhbil Bin Hasseneh EcoPark, in Jordan

The Sharhbil Bin Hasseneh EcoPark, in Jordan

The Gardens of the Righteous celebrate the Good in the world as a fundamental value. They remember who were able to recognize and follow it.

When we inaugurated the Gardens of Neve Shalom and Tunis, we set ourselves some very ambitious objectives: to launch from these places the diplomacy of Good, bringing to light Stories of humanity, solidarity and resistance, which often remain unknown.

Faced with conflicts, terrorism and today's challenges, we chose to honour the figures of those who acted to defend the value of life and humanity, from Europe to the Middle East. That is why we have celebrated the moral courage of the Arabs and Muslims Righteous such as Hamadi ben Abdesslem, the Bardo Museum guide that rescued Italian tourists during the 2015 attack, or Faraaz Hussein, the young Bengali who - in the attack on a restaurant of Dhaka in 2016 - refused to save himself not to abandon his non-Muslim friends.

Our effort is to find stories that break the schemes, to answer those who, in fear, hide behind dangerous prejudices.

From Israel to Tunisia, this cultural operation now extends to Jordan, with the creation of a new Garden of the Good, a place born thanks to the collaboration between Gariwo, the Italian Embassy in Amman and EcoPeace Middle East - the organization that unites environmentalists Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians for the environment defence, the protection of resources and peaceful cooperation towards sustainable development.

Why Jordan? King Abdallah's country is a fragile kingdom that has been at the center of the Middle East question and the Palestinian conflict, then experiencing at its borders wars violence, the birth of Arab Spring, the drama of refugees from neighbouring countries, terrorism of yesterday and today.

The Hashemite Kingdom is a symbol of tolerance and coexistence between Christians and Muslims, between a Western-style monarchy and the Muslim Brothers. As Prince Hussein himself recalled at the last General Assembly of the United Nations, Jordan is a "land of moderation and integration" that holds one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Petra, but also houses one of the bigger and sadly famous refugee camps, that of Zaatari.

There’s no country like Jordan that today is expected to face all the greatest challenges of our time: the lack of natural resources, the migration crisis, and the fundamentalism. The kingdom of Queen Rania is in fact the poorest water country in the world, hosting more refugees than its original population - including Syrians, Palestinians, Iraqis, and Kurds - and is at the center of the fundamentalist threat that oppresses the Middle East.

That is why in the Garden of Good that will rise to Sharhabil Bin Hasseneh EcoPark, among the seven figures that will be honoured stands out that of Moath Al Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilgrim captured by the jihadists after his plane was shot down in Raqqa, locked in an iron cage and burn alive by Daesh fanatics in February 2015.

EcoPeace Middle East remembers him with these words: "Her heroism and courage facing a painful death will always be engraved in the memory of Humanity. Hero and martyr, he accepted death to make us safe. For him, the calling of duty, dignity and security of his people have been more important than his own life. As relatives welcome a dear upon arrival, so his good deeds welcome the promoter of the Good that has passed from this world to the other.”

Just as in Tunis in 2016 we celebrated the individuals who opposed the barbarism of terrorism, on October 30, in Amman, we will remember seven Jordanian figures, stories of moral courage and civil engagement, who have chosen to commit to life, environment and beauty, in recognition of a common humanity.

Because behind every Muslim there is no potential terrorist, and with this operation we want to show people the ability to distinguish and understand that also in Arab world there are countries and individuals that move differently.

For this reason, the Garden of the Good should be supported by institutions, government and diplomacy in Italy. It should be an Italian idea to be exported to the world with the support of lay people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all those who are committed today to defending human plurality.

To do this, however, you need courage …

Martina Landi

Analysis by Martina Landi, Gariwo Project Manager and Coordinator

24 October 2017

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