02/27/2014, 00.00
SYRIA

Jihadist group imposes rules of submission on Raqqa Christians

by Paul Dakiki
Payment of "protection” fee, ban on Christian signs and restoration of churches and monasteries. The group "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" accused by other Damascus opponents of playing into the hands of Assad. An ultimatum of five days.

Beirut ( AsiaNews) - A jihadist group linked to al -Qaeda has released a set of rules of submission for Christians of Raqqa. These include a protection fee, the order to practice their faith in the privacy of their homes and a ban on wearing any obvious sign of Christianity.

The rules (termed "Agreement") were drawn up and are being imposed by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group linked to al- Qaeda in Iraq and which aims to create a single caliphate that spans the Middle East, North Africa, Andalusia and southern Italy, the ancient Arab and Islamic lands.

Raqqa city in northern Syria had 300 thousand inhabitants before the start of the civil war in March 2011.  Of these, 1% was Christian. Now many people have fled and the city is in the hands ISIL, which released the text of the Agreement on jihadist websites.

Under the threat of violence, Christians must pay a "jiziya", the ancient mandatory fee for non-Muslims.

Rich Christians have to pay a sum equal to the value of 13 grams of pure gold (half an ounce), those of the middle class half of the sum, and the poor a quarter.

Christians are banned from displaying crosses or symbols of their faith in areas frequented by Muslims and especially the market; they must not use loudspeakers for the call to prayer; they must perform their rituals behind closed doors in buildings of worship.

The group also demands that Christians comply with the rule for modest dressing that is imposed on all inhabitants.

Christians are forbidden to carry weapons and they are also forbidden to restore any of the churches or monasteries in the area that have been damaged. Those who does not adhere to these rules, will share in the destiny of those "people of war and rebellion", in short they will be killed .

ISIL is part of the Islamist extremist fringe in opposition to Bashar Assad. Since January last a merciless war between secular and Islamist opposition groups has been ongoing, as well as among moderate and less moderate Islamists. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights , the clashes between the two camps have caused the death of at least 3300 people, of which 924 among the members of SIIL.

Opponents are coalescing against ISIL, accused of "playing into the hands of Assad". Just yesterday, the Al- Nusra Front (Al Qaeda in Syria) launched a five-day ultimatum against ISIL to put an end to the internal conflict and appear before a religious court.

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