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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 March, 2005, 12:26 GMT
Jordan's Queen
On Sunday, 20 March, 2005, Sir David Frost interviewed Queen Noor of Jordan

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Queen Noor
Queen Noor of Jordan

DAVID FROST: The late King Hussein of Jordan spent much of his reign managing a delicate balance.

He was a friend of the West but also an often vocal critic of its approach to the Middle East. Beside him for the last twenty-one years of his life was his American born wife - Queen Noor.

When I talked to the queen at her London home earlier this week, I began by asking her about Western attitudes to Islamic countries such as Jordan in the aftermath of September the Eleventh and the war in Iraq.

QUEEN NOOR: What grieves me today, truly, is the fact that not only in the United States but also in Europe we've seen the rise, over the last few years, of Islamophobia.

That means that the Muslim populations and the Muslim world has been increasingly, not decreasingly, viewed as a menace, as alien, as, perhaps, incompatible with Western societies and values. And I passionately believe that that is not true and that we have a great deal of work to do there.

DAVID FROST: Your husband tried to, to intervene to try and stop the first Gulf War, what would his reaction have been to the second one?

QUEEN OF JORDAN: His response to the, the second Gulf War would have been to insist on exhausting all diplomatic alternatives, and I imagine also to exhaust the UN, the weapons inspectors process as well, until its logical conclusion, before taking any military action. Because he recognised that was not a means to peace, that was always a means to destruction and, and often further violence.

DAVID FROST: Do you think the idea of democracy in the Middle East is really possible? People are getting more optimistic about it, do you think it's possible?

QUEEN OF JORDAN: I've always felt it was entirely consistent with genuine, authentic Muslim tradition, which is the emphasis on consensus building and on consultation. Those are the primary pillars - if you will - of Islamic governance from its origins.

Not, though, we all must be aware, transplanting one Western model of democracy into another culture but helping the basic principles which are consistent with Islam.

DAVID FROST: There are some problems though in that sense, like recent articles on torture in Jordan and things like that.

QUEEN OF JORDAN: Those are, those are huge problems, wherever they exist, and I, I don't believe a country can be strong and secure except - and this is my work with the United Nations, with the King Hussein Foundation and in various different countries around the world, to emphasise that I believe genuine security comes by addressing the needs of people on the ground and empowering them to feel free to speak and to participate in political processes. That's important in every country.

DAVID FROST: What is your, your favourite snapshot memory of the king, of King Hussein. I mean was it, you quoted that case of where he, when he was wooing you, he sung, he sung to you the song from Abba, "Take a chance on me," which is pretty memorable but what, what, when you wake up in the middle of the night, what's the vision of him that means most to you?

QUEEN OF JORDAN: I have - I have so many and they are all of him alive and full of humour and love. He had an enormous heart and, most importantly I think, optimism. His, his faith that, that could not swayed, no, in, he in, in his fellow man, in God, of course, you know, first and foremost, but in his fellow man and in the possibility of each of us to contribute to a better future.

DAVID FROST: The first time I ever interviewed him when he was talking about some of the assassination attempts there had already been on his life, and this was back in the Sixties, already, you know, and people always commented on his physical character. I don't know how many attempts there were on his life in his whole life but probably, definitely probably in the double figures.

QUEEN OF JORDAN: Yeah. And he never let his, he never let fear or threats deter him from what he passionately believed in. And the final example was when he left the security and comfort of the hospital - well comfort is a relative word when you're receiving chemotherapy -

DAVID FROST: Yes, yes.

QUEEN OF JORDAN: - but when he left that to go to the Wye plantation outside of Washington to help President Clinton's administration break the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, at that moment - and he succeeded.

He had credibility on all sides because he had, they could recognise not only in his humanity in his, his, so obvious courage and willingness to sacrifice everything at that moment but that he had been consistent throughout, and always true and - true to his word and, and true in his dealings with others.

Interview Ends

NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.

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