THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – In yet another move which has shocked Iraqis, Daash, aka ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has published a statement in which it warns Christians in the city of Mosul that if they do not convert to Islam they will face a harsh punishment.
ISIL militants have warned that all Christians would have to either convert or pay a special tax. Should they refuse they will be killed.
This new rule has taken effect on Saturday. Christians caught under ISIL’s rule face now increased hardship and isolation as the terror group has hardened its tone against minority communities.
The ISIL announcement also said that Christians could stay and pay a tax, often known as a “jizya,” though the exact amount was unspecified. A jizya is a historical policy of allowing non-Muslims to keep their own religion and their property if they pay a certain amount to Islamic rulers.
In centuries past, there have been examples of Christians paying the tax and living peacefully with Muslims. Recently however, it has often been exploited as a form of extortion against non-Muslims.
Many Christian families fleeing Mosul didn’t seem to put much trust in the promise of peace.
“Some families have had all their money and jewelry taken from them at an insurgent checkpoint as they fled the city,” Abu Rayan, a Mosul Christian who had just left the city with his family, told AFP.
The Sunni radical organization “seems intent on wiping out all traces of minority groups from areas it now controls in Iraq,” said a statement from Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
The group noted that the ISIL is “killing, kidnapping, and threatening religious and ethnic minorities in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.”