Convert, abide by the “dhimma contract’ or face the swords. These are the only three options available to Christians in the militant-controlled Mosul, according to an ultimatum given by the jihadist group, The Islamic State. “We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” said the fiat. According to the “dhimma” contract, non-Muslims are protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya”.
The statement issued by the Islamic State in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh, had been distributed on July 17 and read out in mosques. The leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, set the deadline for July 19 after which those who refuse to pay the tax or convert to Islam would have to leave the borders of the Islamic Caliphate, or face the sword.
Iraq is home to one of the world’s most ancient Christian communities. In 2003, Mosul alone had around 60,000 Christians who lived in relative peace, but after the 2003 US led invasion of Iraq the numbers have dropped significantly. In June 2014 the number was around 35,000. That number is believed to have decreased further given the mass exodus of Christian since the surge of Sunni Jihadist in Iraq’s northern and western regions. According to reports, there are around 25000 Christians left in the city.
Following the diktat from the jihadist group, thousands of Christians have fled Mosul and moved towards Dohuk and Arbil in Kurdistan to seek refuge.
The Islamic State-led insurgency, which began in early June, has forced more than 600,000 people from their homes, left thousands dead and brought Iraq to the brink of collapse.
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