Al-Qaeda in Iraq Collecting Taxes on Syrian Christians

Jizya Tax Set at 17 Grams of Gold in Raqqa

Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has reportedly revived the concept of the Jizya tax, a levy imposed on non-Muslims living in Muslim territory, imposing a fee of 17 grams of gold (about $725) on every Christian man in Raqqa.

The Jizya tax was designed to replace the collection of Zakat, charitable contributions given by Muslims, which in the past were collected by the state like a tax. It was extremely common throughout history, but is virtually unheard of today.

Raqqa is the largest city under AQI control, and they also control much of the surrounding province. The number of Christians living in Raqqa is unclear, but most of Syria’s Christian minority lives in the west.

Though the Jizya is considered an outdated concept in most of the Muslim world, the move by AQI to start collecting it may actually be an encouraging sign that the group does not intend to wipe out the Christian minority living in their territory.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.