Luke de Pulford

Islamic State’s ‘Jizya tax’ for Christians is pure propaganda

Christians continue to be slaughtered in the Middle East. But as reports of genocidal atrocities mount up, our governments have found a new reason to sit on their hands. Christians, the theory goes, don’t have it as bad as the Yazidis. As ‘people of the book’, Christians enjoy privileged status. Rather than suffering the full extent of Islamic State’s depravities, they can pay a tax (Jizya) in return for protection. It sounds credible and contains just enough theology to bamboozle the secular population of the international community. Here’s the Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights:

‘While Christian communities still living in Daesh controlled territories live difficult and often precarious existences…their right to exist as Christians within any Islamic State existing at any point in time, is recognised as long as they pay the Jizya tax.

The UN has said it. Parliamentarians around the world have said it. Respected international NGOs specialising in genocide have said it. Case closed, you might think. Until you realise that the evidence for the Jizya claim originates almost exclusively from Isis. Yes, you read that right. That reliable source of accurate information on the treatment of minorities in the Middle East. They wouldn’t lie, surely?

Some background is necessary. The Jizya has its origins in the Qur’an (9:29, Surah al-Tawbah) under which ‘people of scripture’ (Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and Sabean-Mandeans) paid a tax in exchange for guarantees of protection. The Jizya has expressed itself in different ways down the centuries, always falling short of modern standards of religious freedom, but broadly allowing for selected minorities to keep their faith and to worship provided they cough up.

So how does this compare to the Jizya that Isis claims to offer? Well, if your only source is Isis, pretty well.

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