Father Murad and 270 Christians reported to be held in Quaryatayn
While tens of thousands of Muslim refugees are streaming into Christian Europe, a small Christian community in the Syrian town of Quaryatayn are praying for the return of their kidnapped priest and are beginning to pay a tax levied on “infidels” by the Islamic State group.
The heads of local churches are reportedly engaged in negotiations for the release of Father Jacques Murad, a priest who was kidnapped from his monastery in Quaryatayn in May, and about 270 Christians and Muslims taken hostage by jihadi militias during an offensive in the area southeast of Homs.
The hostages’ are reportedly still in Quaryatayn and are in “stable and secure” condition, Fides news agency reported Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State has offered Christians still living in Quaryatayn a contract in which the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “guarantees their money, souls, [and] not to force them to change their religion and not to harm anyone of them,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. As reported by SOHR, the Christians in turn are required:
° Not to establish any church, monastery and hermitage.
° Not to show a cross or anything from their books in Muslims roads and markets, and not to use amplifiers when they perform their prayers.
° Not to make Muslims hear the recitation of their books and sound of their bells, and to use the bells only inside the churches.
° Not to do any aggressive acts against the Islamic State, such as hiding spies and the wanted, and if they know that there is conspiracy against Muslims they have to report that.
° To commit themselves not to show something of their rituals of worship.
° To respect Islam and Muslims, so not to vilify anything in their religion.
° The Christians must comply with paying Jizya (a religiously required per capita tax on non-Muslims under Islamic law) that is 4 golden dinars (the dinar here means the golden dinar that was used in transactions because it has fixed amount that is 4.25 gm of pure gold) paid by the rich, half of them paid by the middle class and half of that on the poor, and they can pay them in two installments a year.
° They cannot have weapons.
° Do not trade in the sale of pork or wine with Muslims or in their markets and do not drink wine in public.
° They have their own cemetery as usual.
° To commit themselves of regulations imposed by the Islamic State, like modesty in wearing clothes and regulations of buying and selling etc.
The statement concludes with the warning, “in case they violate the conditions of this writ, then Islamic State is going to deal with them as they deal with people of war.”
The Observatory quoted “reliable sources” confirming that Christians were given a choice of paying the jizya, becoming Muslims or leaving the city. “IS received money in the last 48 hours from Christian clerks from the city,” the report said. “IS is still keeping the Christian citizens’ IDs. The sources reported that most people of the city are going leave after taking their IDs.
In August, ISIS demolished Father Murad’s 5th century Monastery of St. Elian and dug up the bones of the saint for whom it is named, saying both were subject of idolatry.