Egypt Islamists Force Coptic Christians to Pay 'Non-Muslim Submission Tax'

Over thirty-five churches were attacked, damaged or destroyed during violence and protests that rocked Egypt earlier this month.
Over thirty-five churches were attacked, damaged or destroyed during violence and protests that rocked Egypt earlier this month. | (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian Coptic Christians in Dalga have been forced to pay a "submission" tax to the Islamists that have ruled their city since early July. The tax is being forced upon any non-Muslim who refuses to convert to Islam.

This fee, known as a "jizya" tax, has historic roots in political Islam. American author and translator Raymond Ibrahim, who has Coptic lineage, has said that the jizya was what "conquered non-Muslims historically had to pay to their Islamic overlords 'with willing submission and while feeling themselves subdued' to safeguard their existence."

If non-Muslims converted to Islam, they were no longer taxed.

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Dalga, a city of 120,000 people in southern Egypt, is home to 20,000 Christians and has been under Islamist control since President Mohammed Morsi was forced to step down by the military at the beginning of the summer. After Morsi's was ousted, Islamist attackers descended upon the city's Christian neighborhoods, torching and plundering and establishing themselves as the city's authority. In response, many Coptic families have fled the city.

Father Yunis Shawqi told reporters from El Dostor Daily News yesterday that though the amount varied, the tax had been leveled against all Christian Copts.

"[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," Mr. Shawqi said, according to the translator.

Forty Coptic Christian families have already left as a result of the tax. Those who had not paid have been attacked, according to multiple reports.

Islamists have forced at least 140 Coptic Christians to pay them 200 Egyptian pounds daily (US $30), according to an email from a source from the Christian persecution pressure group, Voice of the Martyrs, as reported by the Christian Broadcasting Network.

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