Islamic State’s ultimatum for Christians

The Islamic State–formerly known as the ISIS insurgents in Iraq–gave Christians in Mosul an ultimatum.  Any who had not left by Saturday would have to either convert to Islam, submit to the dhimmi contract (the tax and set of restrictions on non-Muslims according to Islamic law), or be killed.

From Convert, pay tax, or die, Islamic State warns Christians | Reuters:

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul.

The statement issued by the Islamic State, the al Qaeda offshoot which led last month’s lightning assault to capture swathes of north Iraq, and seen by Reuters, said the ruling would come into effect on Saturday.

It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract – a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya”.

“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said. . . .

It said Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which the group has now named Caliph Ibrahim, had set a Saturday deadline for Christians who did not want to stay and live under those terms to “leave the borders of the Islamic Caliphate”.

“After this date, there is nothing between us and them but the sword,” it said. . . .

Mosul, once home to diverse faiths, had a Christian population of around 100,000 a decade ago, but waves of attacks on Christians since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein have seen those numbers collapse.

The resident of Mosul who saw the Islamic State announcement estimated the city’s Christian population before last month’s militant takeover at around 5,000. The vast bulk of those have since fled, leaving perhaps only 200 in the city, he said.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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