What are the changes that you have seen in women in your country since your husband became a King and you a Queen? Donaldo Villalobos in Los Angeles
My husband [King Abdullah] is a strong advocate of women's empowerment, as was my father-in-law, the late King Hussein. As a result, today women in Jordan are participating in all aspects of civil as well as political life as female judges, parliamentarians, businesswomen. And the evolution will continue. This is not something that happens overnight.
How much change can you effect, and how fast, given that religious extremism and aversion to the West is so entrenched in the culture you are trying to alter? Mohammad Shamsuzzaman in San Bernardino, Calif.
I don't necessarily agree with your assumption. Extremism is not endemic in my region, nor is anti-Western sentiment. No doubt there is discontent and distrust. That is towards more the American and some Western policies, and not toward the American people. Polls show that Arabs admire a lot of the Western values, cultural aspects in the West. It is more about policies than about way of life.
What do you think about hijab [veil, or headscarf], in relation to Islam and modernity? Nese Yilmaz in Madison, Wis.
For many, the hijab represents modesty, piety and devotion to God, and I truly respect that. Unfortunately, too many people in the Western world mistakenly perceive it as an expression of powerlessness and oppression. And increasingly it is being turned into a political tool. Modernity is not about dress codes. Religion and modernity are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In Jordan, a woman cannot be forced to wear a veil against her will.
How do you think the role of the Jordanian Queen has changed over time, and do you expect it to change greatly in the future? Latu Lolohea in Salt Lake City, Utah
The job description for a queen changes with the times. Ten years ago, for example, the need for cross-cultural dialogue was not as pertinent as it is now. Today it is an integral part of what I do. Having said that, many aspects of the role remain unchanged primarily to listen, to care and to serve.
What would you say is the single biggest challenge Jordan must overcome in the next decade and how would you address it? Waheed Din in Houston
With 70% of our population under the age of 30, creating opportunities for our youth is one of most pressing challenges, and is the overriding motivation of everything that we do. Because the youth are the catalysts for real change. For that reason, our main priority is innovation and education. We are focused on achieving excellence and pushing the boundaries of education, and giving our young children not only the skills to know what to think, but how to think.
Is the clash between cultures stressful for you and how do you cope? David Colclasure in Conway, Ark.
I don't believe there is a clash between cultures. I believe there is a clash between perceptions of each other. As someone who knows both sides well, I find it incredibly frustrating to see the gaps in the narrative. If both sides would come together and communicate a little bit more, I think a lot of the tension that exists would be dissipated. It is a clash of perceptions of our cultures, but not real clashes in our cultures.
What role should a Muslim woman play in reducing tensions between the Muslim world and the West? Asghar Mayo in Lahore, Pakistan
Muslim women must stand up and speak out about who we are, what we believe and where we are going. I think we need to know that our counterparts in the west are also willing to listen and reciprocate.
How "easy" or how "hard" is it to be Queen Raina? Anand Srivastava in Hyderabad, India
It's hard and it's easy and everything in between. It's a cause, it's a project, it's a journey, with lots of fun and laughter. It's my life and its unique just like everyone else's. The hardest [part] is some of the misperceptions that are leveled against me as a person and against Muslim women. There are so many misperceptions and stereotypes out there that I would love to see clarified one day.
Which misconceptions about your life in any of your roles would you like to erase so that we can better understand not only you, but also your culture and values? Nalini Saxena in New York City
My position attracts a fair amount of rumors and gossip and misperceptions, but I'd rather not focus on that. I'm amazed by the misconceptions about Muslim women and the Arab world that I hear, and that really does hurt me. I don't believe that there is fair enough understanding of either our status as women or the total context of our lives, which is very rich and multi-faceted. It is all too easy to draw conclusions and make sweeping judgments about millions of Muslim women based on fleeting television images. That is not right. I think we have to try harder.