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The PJ Tatler

by
Raymond Ibrahim

Bio

March 14, 2014 - 9:31 am

In the al-Nafura region of Asyut, Egypt, an increasingly common scene took place earlier this month.

Isaac Eli—a Coptic Christian—was abducted under threat of gunfire.

According to sources, four “unknown persons” armed with automatic weapons came upon the Coptic wood merchant while he was working in front of his home, coerced him into their car, and sped away.

Later, one of his relatives received a phone call demanding a hefty ransom to release the Christian man: 500,000 Egyptian pounds—the equivalent of approximately $72,000 USD, an exorbitant sum for any resident of Upper Egypt.

Such scenarios—Coptic children or adults abducted at gunpoint and held (and sometimes killed or forced to convert to Islam) by “unknown persons” in exchange for money—are on the rise in Egypt (see herehereherehere, and here for some recent examples).

The logic of these many “unknown persons” is simple: according to Islamic law, non-Muslims are required to pay jizya, or tribute, in order not to be molested or plundered (see Koran 9:29).

However, because the jizya has been abolished since the 19th century, thanks to the intervention of colonial powers, these “unknown persons” have found a way to make a profit that is conscionable enough for them: target Christian minorities in their midst for ransom money and justify it all in the context of receiving their just due of jizya from them.

If Christian infidels are not made to pay tribute to the state—as Koran 9:29 mandates and as Salafis regularly insist—the “jizya-vigilantes” will get that money one way or another.

The prevalence of this mentality becomes more evident when one considers that the phenomenon of Muslims kidnapping and holding for ransom Christians is occurring all around the Muslim world—including in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Nigeria, Sudan—and not just Egypt (see pgs. 199-216 of Crucified Again for details and documentation).

Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East and Islam specialist, is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow, Middle East Forum; and a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution, 2013. Ibrahim’s dual-background -- born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East -- has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.

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