Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have imposed a treaty on Christians in the Syrian city of Raqqa requiring them to pay the jizya tax.
The jizya is a discriminatory poll tax prescribed by the Quran that allows them to keep their lives and their religion in exchange for subordinating themselves to Islam. The verse tells Muslims to fight those who do not believe in Allah unless they are "humbled" and pay the jizya.
Christians in the north-central Syrian town were given three options: convert to Islam; remain Christian and pledge submission to Islam; or "face the sword," according to the Times of Israel.
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri disavowed any connections between the jihadist group and his global terrorist movement earlier this month.
Al-Zawahiri also surprised many last month when he called on Egyptian jihadists to avoid fighting Christians and Shia.
"We must not seek war with the Christians and thus give the West an excuse to blame Muslims, as has happened before," al-Zawahiri reportedly said.
Nonetheless, the document signed by Christian leaders purportedly also bears al-Qaida's stamp.
Christians are forbidden from renovating their churches or monasteries; displaying crosses or other religious symbols in public. They are not to read the Bible indoors loud enough for Muslims who are standing outside to hear; cannot prevent Christians from converting to Islam; cannot saying anything offensive about Muslims; and must pay the jizya tax twice annually.
"If they adhere to these conditions, they will be close to God and receive the protection of Mohammed his prophet … none of their religious rights will be detracted nor will a priest or monk be wronged. But if they disobey and of these conditions, there are no longer protected and the ISIS can treat them in a hostile and warlike fashion," the document concludes.
This is not an isolated case of the jizya being imposed on Christians in Syria by jihadists.
A report last June indicated that jihadists were driving Christian villagers from their homes due to excessive taxation. Thirty Christian families in a village near Idlib who could not pay the tax were murdered by jihadists.
Jabhat al-Nusra imposed a similar demand on Assyrian Christians in the village of al-Thawrah in August, telling them to convert to Islam or die.