Monday, 3 March 2014
Christian Persecution: Syrian Christians Sign Treaty Of Submission To Islamists
by Benson Agoha
Syrian Christians have reportedly signed a treaty of submission to Islamists in order to stay alive and avoid persecution.
The incidence took place in a community in northern city of Raqqa which chose "‘dhimmitude’ over conversion or death as they are threatened by al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists.
According to reputable Israeli newspaper, Times of Israel, Christian leaders in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, captured by an organization formerly affiliated with al-Qaeda, signed a submission document last week "banning them from practicing Christianity in public, in return for protection by their Islamist rulers."
The media report sited a document, dated Sunday (February 23rd) and disseminated through Islamist Twitter accounts, stating that the Christian community in the province of Raqqa, captured last March by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), "was recently given three options: to convert to Islam; to remain Christian but pledge submission to Islam; or to “face the sword.”
The report said they opted for the second option, known as dhimmitude which allows them to keep their faith but pledge submission to Islam.
But ToI said, al-Qaeda’s central command, in early February distanced itself from ISIS, claiming it was “not a branch of al-Qaeda.”
The authenticity of the document, displaying the stamp of al-Qaeda, could not be independently verified and the signatures of 20 Christian leaders at the bottom of the document said to have been party to the agreement were blotted out, ostensibly at their own request, ToI said.
The implication of the second choice reportedly preferrable to the Christians is that they agree to honour their civil obligations to the territorial rulers as according to classic Islamic law, Christians and Jews "living under Muslim sovereignty must pay a tax known as jizya in return for the Muslim ruler’s protection, known as dhimma."
"The Christians of Raqqa chose to sign the dhimma treaty over war, the document stated, receiving a commitment by local ISIS commander Ibrahim Al-Badri, also known as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, not to be subjected to physical harm or religious targeting, ToI said.
The list of conditions agreed to by the Christians include:
a) to abstain from renovating churches or monasteries in Raqqa.
b) not to display crosses or religious symbols in public or use loudspeakers in prayer.
c) not to read scripture indoors loud enough for Muslims standing outside to hear.
d) not to undertake subversive actions against Muslims.
e) not to carry out any religious ceremonies outside the church.
f) not to prevent any Christian wishing to convert to Islam from doing so.
g) to respect Islam and Muslims and say nothing offensive about them.
h) to pay the jizya tax worth four golden dinars for the rich, two for the average, and one for the poor, twice annually, for each adult Christian.
i) to refrain from drinking alcohol in public and,
j) to dress modestly.
“If they adhere to these conditions, they will be close to God and receive the protection of Mohammed his prophet … none of their religious rights will be detracted nor will a priest or monk be wronged, but if they disobey any of the conditions, they are no longer protected and ISIS can treat them in a hostile and warlike fashion” the document ended.
The report lends credence to the alert Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office raised in November when she said more should be done to protect present day Christians.
In her speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in November, 2013 she said the plight of Christians and religious minorities had become such that "One in 10 Christians live in a minority situation and large numbers of those who live in a minority situation around the world are persecuted."
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* Photo credit: (AP/ToI).
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updated 3/03/2014 10:58:00 am