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Coptic Christians in Egyptian Village Forced to Pay Jizya Tax

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Egypt's Christian Copt community has long been persecuted, with random violence carried out against their churches and businesses perpetrated by Islamist extremists. Now, in the remote village of Dalga, Coptic Christians are ordered to pay a special tax, a Jizya tax. Those who are unable to pay find themselves vulnerable to attack.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Muslim Brotherhood, the discredited political party of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, along with its supporters have begun forcing the roughly 15,000 Christian Copts in Dalga to pay the jizya tax.

As referenced in the Koran 9:29, Jizya is the money, or tribute, that conquered non-Muslims historically had to pay to their Islamic overlords with willing submission and while feeling themselves subdued to safeguard their existence, author and translator Raymond Ibrahim says.

Father Yunis Shawqi, who spoke to reporters in Dalga, all Copts in the village, without exception, is being forced to pay the jizya tax.

"[The] value of the tribute and method of payment differ from one place to another in the village, so that, some are being expected to pay 200 Egyptian pounds per day, others 500 Egyptian pounds per day," Shawqi said, speaking through a translator.

Families unable to pay have been attacked, forcing as many as 40 Christian families from Dalga, Ibrahim said.

Jizya taxes are far from unique to only Egypt. Syrian rebels reportedly went into a Christian man's shop and gave him three options: "become Muslim; pay $70,000 as a tax levied on non-Muslims, known as jizya; or be killed along with his family," the Christian Science Monitor reported.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Islamic law made a distinction between two categories of non-Muslim subjects, pagans and dhimmis ("protected peoples," or "peoples of the book," i.e., those peoples who based their religious beliefs on sacred texts, such as Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians). The Muslim rulers tolerated the dhimmis and allowed them to practice their religion. In return for protection and as a mark of their submission, the dhimmis were required to pay a special poll tax known as the jizya. The rate of taxation and methods of collection varied greatly from province to province and were greatly influenced by local pre-Islamic customs.

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