Islamic State Mozambique (ISM) has demanded that Christians and Jews pay a jizya tax as a sign of their submission to an Islamic Caliphate in Cabo Delgado Province.
In a note, handwritten in Swahili, ISM – also known as al Shabaab, but not linked to the Somali group of the same name – pledge to kill all Christians and Jews unless they either convert to Islam or pay the tax.
The letter also calls upon moderate Muslims to join the Islamist cause or face death.
The Islamists declare, “We will escalate the war against you until you submit to Islam… Our desire is to kill you or be killed, for we are martyrs before God, so submit or run from us.”
The letter, photographs of which were shared on social media, originated in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado in mid-November. The IS weekly newsletter, published on 10 November, also issues the demand for Jews and Christians to convert or pay the jizya.
The concept of jizya is derived from classical Islam and sharia (Islamic law), which teaches that non-Muslim “People of the Book” – that is, Jews and Christians – who do not convert to Islam are permitted to remain in the land so long as they accept a second-class status.
Those who accept such a status are known as dhimmi (literally, protected people). They are treated as a conquered and subjugated people who must abide by various restrictions that reinforce their second-class status, including the payment of jizya to their Muslim conquerors.
These practices are no longer officially enforced by the government of any Muslim-majority country.
The focus on collecting taxes is believed to follow instructions issued to ISM commander Ibn Omar by senior IS leaders at a meeting in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late June or early July. He is understood to have been instructed to stop killing civilians in areas under ISM influence and start enforcing tax collection.
At least 21 Christians were killed by Islamist extremists in violent attacks throughout October in northern Mozambique. Barnabas contacts said in September that ISM plans strategically, drawing in security forces in one area to leave other areas defenceless. At that time they were making about two attacks every week, killing Christians, raping women and kidnapping boys to serve as child soldiers.
Whereas previously government facilities had been the main targets, since the beginning of 2022 the terrorists have concentrated their attacks on predominantly Christian villages, burning houses and churches. They have killed numerous pastors, often decapitating people when they attack.