Iraq: Top cleric says Christians must convert to Islam, be killed, or pay tax

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By Mark Ellis —

Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi

One of Iraq’s most senior government Shia clerics mimicked the hateful rhetoric of ISIS by declaring in a recent sermon that Christian “infidels” must convert to Islam, be killed, or pay a tax known as jizya.

Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi, the head of Iraq’s Shia endowment, made the remarks in southern Iraq, captured in a YouTube video published May 17th (see below).

In response, almost 200 Iraqi Christian families filed a lawsuit against the Sheikh, charging that he is fomenting sectarian violence against Christians in a manner reminiscent of the extremist group ISIS, according to the Middle East Monitor (MEM).

The irony is that Iraq is a key ally in the fight against ISIS, but Iran’s growing influence in the country does not bode well for Christians.

Al-Mousawi is in charge of the government body that maintains Iraq’s Shia holy sites, including mosques and schools.

He described Christians as “infidels and polytheists” and stressed the need for “jihad” against them. He has also said that “Jews and Christians” must be fought and killed if they do not accept Islam, with the same fate awaiting Zoroastrians as well as Sabians, another Iraqi religious community, according to MEM.

In the video clip highlighted below he said, “The second group are the People of the Book. The People of the Book must be fought, known as the infidels, the People of the Book, who are Jews and Christians. For the same reason, it is to compel their conversion to Islam. Either they convert to Islam, or else they are killed or they pay the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims), depending on any agreements with the leader of the Muslims who is the Prophet (Muhammad) or the Imam.

“Of course in this ruling they are also joined by the Zoroastrians and Sabians. I mean we deal with the Zoroastrians and the Sabians the same way we deal with the Jews and Christians and the same judgment applies to them,” he said.

In 2014, ISIS exacted the same harsh treatment of Christians in the areas they controlled in northern Iraq, forcing more than 100,000 believers to run for their lives.

One of the foremost reasons for the U.S. fight against ISIS is the risk they pose to Christians and other religious minorities.

Iraq’s Shia clerical leaders and their jihadist militias have a history of religious extremism and have committed numerous atrocities against the Sunni Arab community as well as other minority groups, according to MEM.

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