Jihadists to Christians in Syrian city: convert to Islam, pay up or be killed

March 12, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world


A street in the centre of Raqqa before the Syrian civil war

A street in the centre of Raqqa before the Syrian civil war

Syria, March 04, 2014: A Jihadist group in control of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa has given Christians a devastating ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay the jizya tax and abide by a list of restrictions, or else risk being killed.

In a statement posted online, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) said it would give Christians protection if they paid the tax and agreed to its conditions, adding:

If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword.

The militants said that a group of 20 Christian leaders had agreed to the Aqed al-Thimaprotection pact. Every Christian man will have to pay a levy in gold: four dinars, worth £435 at current prices, for the wealthy, half that for those on middle-income and a quarter for the poor.

They have to abide by twelve rules, which include restrictions on practising their faith; they are not allowed to make renovations to churches or other religious buildings, display crosses or other Christian symbols outside of churches, ring church bells or pray in public. They are also barred from carrying arms and must follow other rules imposed on their daily lives.

ISIS cited the Islamic concept of dhimma, which governs non-Muslims living in conquered Islamic territory. It dates back to the early days of Islam in the seventh century but was largely abolished under the Ottomans in the mid-19th century.

The jizya is, on the face of it, a protection racket, but its significance runs deeper than that of a mafia-style extortion scheme. It is a humiliating tax or tribute that the Quran commands Christians and Jews to pay“with willing submission and while feeling themselves subdued” (Q 9:29).

It is part of a collection of rules and regulations imposed on those granted dhimmi status that are intended to mark them out as inferior to Muslims. So, while paying the jizya does guarantee a level of protection for Christians and Jews, it comes at the high price of their accepting a sub-class status in which they are not recognised as citizens and their rights are restricted.

– barnabas team

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