Queen Rania launches YouTube channel

Jordan's media savvy Queen Rania has launched a YouTube channel calling on young people to engage in a global dialogue to dismantle stereotypes of Muslims and the Arab world, according to a press statement Monday from the Royal Palace.

Rania has vowed to work to break down such preconceptions and has said she wants people to "know the real Arab world ... unedited, unscripted and unfiltered."

The YouTube channel invites viewers to give their opinions of the Middle East and talk about stereotyped images they may have of Arabs and Muslims.

In the Palace statement, Rania was quoted as saying that she wanted the young world over "to see the personal side of my region, to know the places and faces and rituals and culture that shape the part of the world I call home."

Although traditionally conservative and tribal-oriented, Jordan strives for a touch of modernity that distinguishes it from other Arab nations in the Middle East.

YouTube is very popular among Jordanian youth, who make up more than half of the country's nearly six million strong population. There is also easy access to Internet, unlike in some other places in the region, including in Mideast heavyweights such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, and in Jordan's neighbor, Syria.

"In a world where it's so easy to connect to one another, we still remain very much disconnected," Rania said on her website of the YouTube launch. "There's a whole world of wonder out there that we cannot appreciate with stereotypes."

The Palestinian-born Rania, who married Jordan's King Abdullah in 1993, is a big promoter of education, micro-credit financing, and strives to lift Jordan out of poverty. She is an advocate for the protection of mothers and children against family abuse and promotes women's rights.

Along with Abdullah, she spearheaded a campaign to introduce tougher laws that would impose harsher punishment on men who kill female members of the family for disobeying the will of the family male elders — the so-called honor killings.

In 2007, she intervened to reunite a Palestinian mother from Gaza with her son after 25 years of separation, after the son spoke of his ordeal on a Jordanian TV talk show. The queen, herself a mother of four, later surprised the show's producers, the studio audience and the Palestinian son when she brought his mother to the show to reunite them.

Rania's YouTube launch comes as Muslim sentiments worldwide have been stirred by the Internet release of the film, Fitna, or "ordeal" in Arabic, made by Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders which is perceived as insulting to Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

The 15-minute film, showing verses from the Quran juxtaposed with scenes of violence and terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists, has drawn condemnation in Muslim nations.

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