Threatened by al-Qaeda affiliated extremists, a community in the northern city of Raqqa chooses ‘dhimmitude’ over conversion or death.
By Elhanan Miller, February 27, 2014, TOI (Framegrab: AP)
Christian leaders in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, captured by an organization formerly affiliated with al-Qaeda, have signed a submission document this week banning them from practicing Christianity in public in return for protection by their Islamist rulers.
The document, dated Sunday and disseminated through Islamist Twitter accounts, states 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.” They opted for the second of those choices, known as “dhimmitude.”
Earlier this month, al-Qaeda’s central command distanced itself from ISIS, saying it was “not a branch of al-Qaeda.”
The authenticity of the document, displaying the stamp of al-Qaeda, could not be independently verified. 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.
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 (photo left: AP), not to be subjected to physical harm or religious targeting.
In return, the Christians agreed to a list of conditions: to abstain from renovating churches or monasteries in Raqqa; not to display crosses or religious symbols in public or use loudspeakers in prayer; not to read scripture indoors loud enough for Muslims standing outside to hear; not to undertake subversive actions against Muslims; not to carry out any religious ceremonies outside the church; not to prevent any Christian wishing to convert to Islam from doing so; to respect Islam and Muslims and say nothing offensive about them; 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; to refrain from drinking alcohol in public; and 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,” the document ended. “But if they disobey any of the conditions, they are no longer protected and ISIS can treat them in a hostile and warlike fashion.”
ISIS has previously banned the sale of cigarettes in Raqqa and enforced the veil for women in public. Last week, the Daily Star Lebanon reported, it changed the official weekend in the province to Thursday and Friday from Friday and Saturday, as practiced in “faithless countries.”
[The entire article is re-published above; emphases were added.]
FreeAllThree.com editorial: We published the article above, related to Syrian Christians, as a type of Islamic ‘playbook’ or prologue. IF LEFT UNCHECKED, militant Islamists’ desire is to impose their understanding of Islam not only in the middle east, but also the world. This is already happening on a DAILY basis in several parts of the world.
Denial and apathy are exactly what militant Islamists want from nations that are not yet affected, until they arrive at their doorsteps!
There will be some measure of resistance by world powers, but not because of the religious issues at hand, but rather ‘nationhood stability.’ Defending Christians for that sole reason is not sufficient cause for war or even a priority consideration for international intervention or protection. This is true in my memory going back to the holocaust. This official state of apathy applies not only to the UN, but sadly to my own country, the United States. We don’t care to the point of getting involved, when hundreds of people of faith are beheaded, bombed or gassed, but if money laundering or drug running is involved, we might.
Sure, the United Nations’ and United States’ leaders, as well as the Pope, may ‘call for calm’ and ‘deplore’ such violence, but that’s it.
For proof, look at very recent experience in Syria: beheadings of priests and other Christians in public, dragging Christians out of their homes and murdering them because of their alleged supported for the political leader that jihadis were trying to remove. And more recently the intimidation of Catholic nuns who were ordered to remove their crosses. Or requiring women in ‘conquered’ territory to wear burqas. And the implementation of sharia law. Men who are non-believers of Islam and even those with differing muslim beliefs are often executed!
(The murder of Franciscan Father Francois Murad (kneeling, right, photo credit: liveleak.com) and two others on June 23, 2013 in Syria was confirmed by the official Vatican news agency. We show this here not for sensationalism but as an example of Christian persecution TODAY. There are those in America that say Christians will never suffer tribulations. We disagree. God said his people will not experience His wrath, but religious persecution from man, inspired by Satan, is as old as Cain and Abel!)
Syria has had a strong Christian presence since the first century AD. The road to Damascus is where the Jew Saul of Tarsus had an encounter with Christ and was renamed Paul. Further north in Syria, the Bible names Antioch as the place where followers of Jesus were first referred to as “Christians!”
The trendline of militant Islam’s ultimatums to Christians, Jews and others, can be plainly seen: a) renounce YOUR beliefs, b) accept OUR beliefs or c) DIE, now!
For further proof beyond Syria one only needs to look at Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Sudan, CAR (the Central African Republic which is the newest nation that the US & UN created) and elsewhere. In Egypt newly powerless Brotherhood factions have turned their wrath against Christians and western tourists. Why Christians? Because they are perceived as being a protected class under former dictator Mubarak and were (allegedly) foes of the deposed MB leader Morsi. Why the tourists? Because they are easier to attack than the government itself and may get them a place at the negotiating table.
Additionally very few unfettered expressions of religion, especially Christianity, are allowed in Iran, North Korea, China, Indonesia or Malaysia to name a few. Even the Philippines has been locked in a struggle for decades with rebel muslims in the southern island of Mindanao. The media mainly categorizes such conflicts as ‘secessionist’ strife, which it is also, but not as the religious struggle between a predominantly Roman Catholic nation and muslims. When bombs or Molotov cocktails are lobbed into churches on Christmas eve, as they are almost every year, that is nearly a sidebar in the media’s account.
Here in the ‘free’ USA and other western nations, it is has become an unwritten ‘law’ that effectively forbids the challenging of Islam, making jokes about it or its founder. ‘Hate speech’ it is called. In fact it was one such YouTube video clip that purportedly ignited the 9/11/2012 Benghazi consulate attacks leaving four dead Americans. The U.S. Administration’s unspoken position was, “well, we had it coming” for violating this unwritten law. Of course they don’t say that, but by constantly pointing to the video, they leave the listeners to connect the dots.
But there are no limits to frequent and intentional mockery and ridicule of Christians, Christianity and it’s founder! A portrait of Jesus Christ was once made from dung. Further, it was funded by U.S. taxpayers through an NEA grant! Other ‘art’ protected as ‘free speech’ by the political left was a figure of Jesus in a container of urine.
Make no mistake about it, these were not expressions of ‘art’ but rather of ‘hatred’ of Christ and Christians alike. No one who believes in Christ as God and Messiah would or could do such things. Comedians, talk show hosts and others frequently use Christ as a curse word and Christians as the butt of their unfunny jokes. I am not an expert on Jewish persecution over the past century, but I know that crude and often violent cartoons and coarse jokes were (and still are) made by their enemies.
Contrast that with a Dutch cartoonist who was nearly murdered and had to go into hiding for merely drawing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad (a man, not God) wearing a turban shaped like a bomb, which was a timely topic then. Or the rumor, which was later refuted, that a Gitmo prisoner had his Quran urinated on by an American soldier. People died in overseas riots, primarily in Pakistan, because of this rumor and ‘friendly fire’ attacks against US military were incurred.
Rumors and false claims are too easily accepted as fact by muslims in certain places, in part because there is no freedom of speech, but rather stifled speech. We see this at play in the current Iran nuclear discussions and other areas as well. The recent mere discussion that Congress might impose new sanctions is perceived as fact – that the U.S. already has or will impose new sanctions.
In Israel just this week, the debate in the Knesset that Jews should be allowed to ascend the Temple Mount for prayer and worship as equally as muslims was perceived as fact and imminent. Riot police had to be called in to quell muslim protests and rock throwers, thus shutting down the entire Temple area to visitors. Already, the Temple Mount grounds are closed every Friday to non-muslims because of the unpredictable nature of the crowds following Friday prayers that are often filled with hate and incitement against Jews, Israel and the west.
This demonstrates how difficult it will be to have a reasoned discussion with the one who is brandishing a sword. There is no dialogue. It’s only ‘our way or the highway.’ But even that is not accurate as ‘the highway’ implies one is actually given the choice to go his own way!
Ultimately, for those who read and believe the Bible, Christians are victorious in the end. But not without continuing trials and tribulations that began 2000 years ago. The United States, despite revisionists’ claims to the contrary, was founded in large part by people who wished to believe and worship God as they chose … but not to the detriment or annihilation of others.
As this ‘debate’ increasingly turns from mere words to more-and-more violent actions, as it surely will, the world must be reminded that Christians are compelled to share their beliefs. And more than that, they desire to see others ‘saved’ or converted by the working of God’s Holy Spirit, not by a sword. Indeed this is a major part of the Christian faith that stems from the Bible’s commands.
The difference now between Bible-believing Christians and Jews on the one hand, and Muslim believers on the other, is that the former present their religion so that people can make an informed choice. They do not threaten to remove a person’s head or imprison him for not believing exactly like them.
Obviously there have been abuses throughout history, which are always brought up as objections. ‘Fighting for God’ has been a false rallying cry for millenia (think Northern Ireland until the late 1990’s, the Inquisition, the Crusades and even Hitler’s holocaust)! However, ulterior motives were involved … excuses to take lands or attack enemies in the name of God.
Religious wars and strife, conquering others to impose religious submission, should not only be resisted in the present day, but uniformly resisted.
Daniel @ FreeAllThree .com