Government Leader Demands Christians Must Convert, Pay Taxes or Be Killed

A video showing a call for jihad from a senior Iraqi Shi’ite cleric has caused anger among Iraqi Christians.

The undated footage shows Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi, head of the Shia Endowment, a government body that looks after Iraq’s Shia holy sites, describing Christians as “infidels”, saying “either they should convert to Islam, or else they are killed or they pay the jizya,” which is a tax on non-Muslims. When challenged, Al-Mousawi was reported to have said the video dates back three years. Other local reports say that the video is more recent.

Almost 200 Iraqi Christian families have filed a lawsuit against the government-appointed cleric on charges of “incitement of sectarian violence against Christians.” Meanwhile, Al-Mousawi has sent a delegation from the Shia Endowment to the Babylonian Christian Movement to mediate the lawsuit.

The statement is a chilling reminder of when Islamic State (IS) captured towns in the Nineveh plains in June 2014, reinstating the same traditional Islamic ultimatum to Christians.

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