The Islamic State group forced Christian men in a Syrian town to pay a sharia-mandated tax known as jizya and abide by a long list of restrictions, according to new photos posted by the Islamist group.
In addition to the tax which was calibrated by income level, the jihadists forced the Christians to sign a contract pledging an array of curbs on their faith and self-defense, including promising they will not own guns, build churches, display crosses, worship in public or ring church bells.
The photos show dozens of men gathered for the signing in Qaryatain, a town that once had a Christian population of thousands. They sat in a theater, apparently waiting their turn, as a man joined a militant onstage to sign the document.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, the photos were published by the Damascus province of the Islamic State.
With the contract, they would be relegated to second class “dhimmi” status offered to non-Muslims under Islamic rule.
As it placed severe restrictions on the practice of Christianity, the jihadist group had a clause in the contract enforcing “respect” for Islam.
“They must respect Muslims and not criticize their religion,” the contract stated.
MEMRI reported that in exchange for the tax and abiding by the rules, the Islamic State committed to protect them and their property, noting they would not be forced to convert.
These were the 11 articles of the contract, as translated by MEMRI:
1. Christians may not build churches, monasteries, or hermitages in the city or in the surrounding areas.
2. They may not show the cross or any of their books in the Muslims’ streets or markets, and may not use amplifiers when worshiping or during prayer.
3. They may not make Muslims hear the reciting of their books or the sounds of church bells, which must be rung only inside their churches.
4. They may not carry out any act of aggression against ISIS, such as giving refuge to spies and wanted men. If they come to know of any plot against Muslims, they must report it.
5. They must not perform religious rituals in public.
6. They must respect Muslims and not criticize their religion.
7. Wealthy Christians must pay an annual jizya of four gold dinars; middle-class Christians must pay two gold dinars, and the poor must pay one. Christians must disclose their income, and may split the jizya into two payments.
8. They may not own guns.
9. They may not engage in commercial activity involving pigs or alcohol with Muslims or in Muslim markets, and may not drink alcohol in public.
10. They may maintain their own cemeteries.
11. They must abide by ISIS dress code and commerce guidelines.
The Islamic State destroyed a monastery and exhumed a Christian saint’s tomb in the same Syrian town last month.