During a recent altercation in Egypt, a Christian inadvertently killed a Muslim. This incident, according to an AINA report, “turned into collective punishment of all Copts in the majority Christian village.” Two Christians “not party to the altercation” were killed; others were stabbed and critically wounded. As usual, “after killing the Copts, Muslims went on a rampage, looting and burning Christian owned homes and businesses.”
Despite all this, “Muslims insist they have not yet avenged” the death of their slain co-religionist; there are fears of “a wholesale massacre of Copts.” Many Christians have fled their homes or are in hiding.
Collectively punishing dhimmis—non-Muslims who refused to convert after their lands were seized by Muslims, and who are treated as “second-class” infidels—for the crimes of the individual is standard under Islam. In this instance, dhimmis are forbidden from striking—let alone killing—Muslims, even if the latter perpetrate the conflict. Prior to the fight that killed him, the Muslim in question had, through the help of radical Salafis, burned down the Christian’s home and was threatening him over a property dispute. Still, non-Muslims are forbidden to raise their hands to Muslims, even in self defense.
Collectively punishing Egypt’s Christians is common. Earlier this year, when a Christian was accused of dating a Muslim woman, 22 Christian homes were set ablaze to cries of “Allahu Akbar”; when Muslims made false accusations against another Christian, one was killed, ten hospitalized, an old woman thrown out of her second floor balcony, and homes and properties were plundered and torched, as documented in a report aptly titled “Collective Punishment of Egyptian Christians.”
Nor are such examples limited to Egypt: when Muhammad cartoons deemed blasphemous by Muslims were published in Europe, Christians in faraway Muslim countries like Nigeria were killed; when Pope Benedict quoted history deemed unflattering by Muslims, anti-Christian riots around the Muslim world ensued, churches were burned, and a nun was murdered in Somalia. Months ago, when an American pastor from a fringe group burned a Koran, dozens of U.N. aid workers were killed by Muslims in Afghanistan; some were beheaded.
This practice of attacking one set of Christians as retribution for the acts of another set has roots in Islamic law. The Pact of Omar, a foundational text for Islam’s treatment of dhimmis, makes clear the consequences of breaking any of the debilitating and humiliating conditions non-Muslims are made to accept to be granted a degree of surety by the Muslim state: “If we in any way violate these undertakings … we forfeit our covenant, and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition”—penalties that include enslavement, rape, and death.
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