The ISIS Genocide of Middle Eastern Christian Minorities and Its Jizya Propaganda Ploy

In the American debate leading up to the U.S. government’s designation of genocide, the issue of jizya first came to be a central rationale for those within and outside the Obama administration who argued that Christians should be excluded from the designation. Based on unsupported claims that jizya arrangements were being implemented, some erroneously concluded that ISIS lacks the intent—required by the international Genocide Convention—to destroy the Iraqi and Syrian Christian community. Their argument, which ultimately did not prevail in the U.S. State Department’s genocide designation decision, depended on taking selective ISIS assertions about jizya at face value; ignoring the evidence in the purported cases of jizya; overlooking the obligations of the Islamic authorities under traditional jizya theory and assuming that ISIS adheres to traditional Islamic rules and practices; and assuming that ISIS can be trusted to honor its agreements with non-Muslims.

This report agrees with the official determination of the U.S. secretary of state and the resolutions of Congress that the Christians of Nineveh and of those areas of Syria under ISIS control have been among the religious minority groups facing ISIS genocide.

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