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ICC Note: The cities controlled by extremists groups in Syria demonstrate the predicament that Christians in the country face. In the city of Raqqa, a jihadist group has taken control and has reportedly implemented a protection tax on the remaining Christian residents. Christians, who previously were as many as 10% of the city’s population, were given the option to convert to Islam, accept the tax, or face the sword, reports have claimed.
03/02/2014 Syria (Fox News) – Radical Muslim rebel groups in Syria reportedly are shaking down the Christian population for protection money in the form of gold.
In a document released by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the groups stated that a “protection pact” or “Aqed al-Thima” was coordinated and reached in a meeting last Thursday with 20 Christian leaders from the northern province of Raqqa. 
The authenticity of the two-page document, which has been circulating online this week, has not been independently verified, but could stoke fears among Syria’s Christian minority population that they are becoming targets by extremists looking to overthrow President Bashar Assad. 
“It underscores that fact that as a Christian you are left with the choice between siding with a dictator or siding with the rebels,” Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which advocates for Christians in the States and in the Middle East, said to “If the Civil War ends, what will stop them from being in danger from extremists?”
“This is the difficult choice that they [Christians in Syria] face—try to survive or lose your faith and die or side with a dictator whose crimes have repulsed the world?”
Syria’s minorities, mostly Christians, have sided with Assad or remained neutral in the three-year-old civil war. Some fear for their fate if the rebels, increasingly dominated by Islamic extremists, come to power and some have stopped supporting Assad altogether.
Under the strict Islamic Sharia doctrine, non-Muslims living under their sovereignty must pay a special tax — known as the “Jizyah” — in return for the ruler’s protection, or “Thima.”
The document stated that the tax could be paid in two annual installments by all “adult” Christians.

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