Dr. Feras Haddad is a physician in the Jordanian military. He and his family were chosen to participate in a three-day pilgrimage tour with other Jordanian Christian military officials to Christian holy places in Palestine and Israel. So far, this newly implemented idea seems to be a one-time initiative by the Jordanian army.
“It is a great move and it was an amazing experience to see the Christian sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth,” Haddad told Al-Monitor.
Haddad, who visited Palestine before as part of military missions to Gaza and Ramallah, said the experience of visiting the religious sites was very special. “I have been to the Vatican, Brussels, Iraq’s Najav, but these visits dwarf in comparison with seeing the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,” the doctor said.
The trip to Palestine coincided with the annual Muslim hajj, in which hundreds of Jordanian military personnel are chosen annually to partake in the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. “The importance of this move,” Haddad said of the Christian sites tour, was that it provides for “equal opportunity” to all members of the Jordanian army.
According to a report by the Amman-based Catholic website Aboun.org, the pilgrimage of the Christian Jordanian officers took place Aug. 13 and included 24 Jordanian military officers and their families. Maj. Areej Hadaddin, a female officer, told the website that the trip, paid for by the Jordanian army, reflects in full the path of the country’s leadership. “This is the kind of activity that helps create the community spirit within the army for people from different backgrounds.”