And, while he’s at it, incredulously asks: “Is There Religious Discrimination in Egypt? ,” by Ismail Imadudeen for the California Chronicle, August 12:
The Hamayouni Decree and Tax Payment [Al-Jizyath]
‘Copts want the antiquated 19th Century Hamayouni decree be abolished. It is inconceivable to require that the president of Egypt must approve permits to build a church or even to repair a toilet in a church. Mosques in Egypt are being built with no restrictions.’ US Copts Association.
This quotation represents one of the most striking and controversial demands for the Copts in Egypt, which requires the ratification or even the abolition of the Â´defamedÂ´ Hamayouni decree. So what is the Hamayouni decree? Is it an Islamic, Quranic invention, or is it just a creation of man, who could be some times wise and some other times insane?
First of all I would like to explain that law to the ordinary, neutral reader; the Hamayouni decree regulates the building of the non-Muslims religious facilities, which was first passed in February, 1856 by the then Ottoman Emperor, and, surprisingly, it was passed to give more rights to the minorities within the Islamic Ottoman Empire. The law was used for the first time in Egypt, after Â´EgyptianizingÂ´ it, in February, 1934, and there were ten, controversial conditions for granting permission to build Christian worship facilities. In fact, the Egyptian version of the law has been a pale version that was highly misunderstood, and some times misinterpreted.
Just another aspect of the perpetually “misunderstood” and “misinterpreted” religion of Islam.
The law, in its essence, aimed at ensuring the societal integrity, as it has been perceived that building a Christian facility on the right location will assure peace between Muslims and Christian on one side, and on the other side, between the different Christian sects with one another.
Huh? How does building a church “assure peace between Muslims and Christians”? And exactly what “different Christian sects” is the author talking about? The Christians of Egypt are predominantly Coptic; sure, there are some Protestants and Catholics, but they get along.
Well, the Egyptian Copts never saw it this way, nor the Muslims saw it the other way, and things continue like this until unfortunate accidents arise here or there that inflame ethnic disturbances, for instance, the late disturbing incidence of Abu-Fana monastery, where a group of armed tribesmen attached the monastery for a seemingly conflict over the land possession and ownership.[…]
That’s it: a land conflict — even if Muslims forced Copts to spit on the cross and say the shahada.
So, I find the interpretation of Abu-Fana incidence by some expatriate Copts that it is an evidence of the systematic discrimination against the Copts in Egypt, to be really hilarious and inappropriate.
However, I do join hands with my brothers the Copts, and other Christian groups, inside Egypt, and ask our coherent leadership to think of a gradual, but decisive solution to the Hamayouni decree; a solution that will permanently eliminate any sensitivity and misunderstanding between the two elements of the society.
With regard to the Â´Jizyath,Â´ or the special tax paid by the non-Muslims to the Islamic state, itÂ´s really shocking to me how this issue has been used fraudulently by some expatriate Copts to allegedly highlight the kind of discrimination that the Copts suffered during the Islamic rule to Egypt since the Arab conquer 14 centuries ago.
The Â´JizyathÂ´ is simply a type of tax; what is wrong with collecting a tax from the citizens of a country? Is it because it is based on religion? Well, there are many other taxes in Islam imposed solely on Muslims, I repeat, imposed solely on Muslims, so would one say that Muslims were discriminated inside their Islamic empire because they were required to pay a tax for them being Muslims? The Â´ZakathÂ´ is a pillar of Islam, and a Muslim wouldnÂ´t be considered true Muslim if he/she doesnÂ´t pay this type of tax. So, what those minor groups are trying to say is simply so witty and deceiving.[…]
Really now, Mr. Imadudeen. First of all, if Islam commands Muslims to pay a “tax” and they follow it, more power to them. But guess what? That’s because, a) they believe in Islam, and b) they believe they will be rewarded for paying these “taxes” — here and in the next world. Conversely, Christians don’t believe in Islam, and therefore don’t see any legitimacy in paying the jizya, which, from day one has been perceived as extortion money. Most importantly, however, is the fact that Imadudeen leaves out the social corollary of the jizya — that is, the discriminative and abusive social conditions that come hand-in-hand with paying the jizya — such as, in fact, not building new churches or even repairing old ones, which is clearly an “Islamic invention” not the “creation of man who could be some times wise and some other times insane” (though, depending on who you ask, these two may be one and the same). See the Pact of Omar for a rather comprehensive list of discriminatory practices Christians are to submit to, such as getting out of their seats and offering it to Muslims (sound familiar?) The second-class status non-Muslims must assume while paying the jizya is, in fact, directly found in Koran 9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Lest there be any confusion, here is a typical tafsir for this verse, by Al-Zamakhshari: “the jizya shall be taken from them with belittlement and humiliation. The dhimmi shall come in person, walking not riding. When he pays, he shall stand, while the tax collector sits. The collector shall seize him by the scruff of the neck, shake him, and say “Pay the Jizyah!” and when he pays it he shall be slapped on the nape of the neck.”
Furthermore, in case that the Islamic state couldnÂ´t provide the necessary security for the non-Muslims, like in case of foreign invasion, all the non-Muslims would be exempted from that tax.
It is worth mentioning that this type of tax is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, so it is not an Islamic invention.
Well, is there any thing else to say? It is sad that our world is full of this type of hatred and retribution! It is sad that there would be some people who would be ready to falsely defame their country and savagely attack their brothers and sisters in humanity for just a cheap price! Is it the fame that they seek? Or is it just the desire to have a cause? But Hitler had a cause; same does Osama Bin Laden and many more.
So now defenders of the persecuted Copts of Egypt are little better than Hitler and bin Laden…