Amman, Jordan... the word from The Queen here
Jordan's Queen Rania sets an everywoman tone as a blogger and Twitterer to thousands of fans and loyal subjects.
As a true Middle-Easterner, she straddles a number of cultures (her family is originally from Palestine) and she thinks that helps her represent her country in a rapidly changing world.
She spoke recently with the CBC's Margaret Evans. We pulled a few paragraphs from the transcript.
A royal audience with an everyday queen. Queen Rania with Margaret Evans.
ME: I'd like to talk to you a little bit about Jordan. This is a country of many faces and there are contradictions within society here as well. What is your message to critics within Jordan who would say that you yourself present perhaps too much of a western image, those who think you are presenting an image that doesn't reflect or represent them?
I say that that is one opinion, but there are many opinions out there. And I think the very principles on which Jordan was founded -- it's a country of moderation of tolerance and as you can see in our society, there are people of different faiths, there are people of different backgrounds. This is an Arab Muslim country, but it's also a country that's at peace with the rest of the world. We believe that we can not be insular or isolated that we have to reach out. I have to go out to The West and to The East and to the Arab world and to the United States to represent my country, and to tell the story of my country and the story of my people in order to serve (them) in the best way possible. So you know, for some people maybe it's too westernized, for others this is effective. I can't be everything to everyone.
ME: What about promoting change in the country? You talk about Jordan as an open country looking to others, Democratic. It is still a country where there are huge problems for women, there are honour killings, difficulties for people to talk about abuse. How do you promote change in your own country?
Change is happening, change really is happening. And you know when you talk about honour killings for example, to me, one honour crime is one too many but to put it in perspective, we're talking about 15 to 20 cases per year. But we are talking about it. We are challenging it in the public sphere in terms of debate, in terms of changing some of the laws to make it more difficult for people to perpetuate these crimes. Change for women is something that we're fighting for and there are great achievements. But I think we have to understand that it is a process that requires courage and conviction but also requires patience.
It's a cultural process and cultural change takes time. But we need to focus on changing some of the legal framework to accelerate change for women in powerdom and also look at changing some fo the social norms. We're very aware of the challenges but we also want to celebrate the successes because Jordan has made so (many), you know we have women in every part of society, they're really rooted in the social, political and economic life in Jordan. So I admit there are many challenges and problems, but there are also many successes we need to celebrate and highlight.
ME: I think some people might be surprised to find you are Palestinian. You were born in Kuwait, but your family is Palestinian. How has that informed who you are today?
As a child I sometimes used to travel to the West Bank to visit my family, so I knew what the checkpoints felt like, I knew what it was like to live under occupation. I also saw during my childhood how the situation was not as severe as it is right now.
Palestinians and Israelis used to interact with each other all the time and there wasn't as much tension as there is today. And I've see how the situation has really deteriorated and moved backwards. And that really saddens me. You know, their life is anything but normal and it's not something that's just in the best interest of the Israelis and Palestinians. But everyone around the world should understand that we all have a direct vested interest in achieving peace in the region. I do believe that a peaceful resolution between the Palestinians and Israelis will unlock a lot of the problems and a lot of the stalemate that exists in the Middle East and it can really push our region forward. A lot of the religious extremists use this particular issue as a rallying call to justify some of their terrorist and violence behaviors, so we need to pull the rug from underneath them.
ME: I'm just wondering if you ever have any, I would call it prince and pauper moments or princess and pauper moments, where you'd simply like to revert to being able to speak out and be a commoner?
Oh, I have that all the time. I was married at 22 and you know, being in the public eye. sometimes it doesn't come naturally to me because I'm a very private person and I do crave moments where I could be alone.
ME: Maybe that's why you like the internet so much.
You know, I make sure I'm still very much in touch with people who knew me before I came into this position. And even people who I meet now, if it's a friendship, I try to make it very clear just deal with me as a friend, just tell me what you really think you know. There's no need for any pretenses or formality, because at the end of the day it needs to be a fulfilling relationship and it won't be fulfilling to me if I feel that you're just saying what you think I want to hear.
And you know, spending time with my children, to them I'm just Mom. And it helps keep everything in perspective because at the end of the day, it's very important for me to realize that the position is just a position, the title is just a title and those things come and go. It's really your essense and your values and your principals that guide your life that are very important.
ME: We appreciate your taking the time to step into the Canadian spotlight for just a little while.
You know I miss Canada, I can't wait to get there. I can't tell you how much respect we have for the Canadian people and for the values and the way they live their lives and I can't wait to get back there and say hello to Canada
ME: Well don't come in the winter
Oh I know about that (smiling)
Categories: The View from Here
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