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International Christian Concern

2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, #941 Washington, DC 20006-1846

www.persecution.org / Email: icc@persecution.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Jeremy Sewall, Advocacy Director

1-800-422-5441, jeremy@persecution.org.

 

Taliban Extorts Protection "Tax" from Christians in Swat Valley

News of Pakistan Army Assault on Swat Valley May End Taliban's Rule

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 8, 2009) - International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that hundreds of religious minorities, including Sikhs and Christians, fled Swat Valley because the Taliban had imposed the "jizya tax" required by Islamic law on religious minorities.

The jizya tax is imposed by fundamentalist Muslims on members of other religions who refuse to convert to Islam and has been used by Muslim governments for centuries. The aim of the jizya tax and other similar restrictions is punishment and slow strangulation. It aims to humiliate non-Muslims and impoverish them so that they are forced to convert to Islam.

Christian and Sikh families living in an area similar to the Swat Valley, the Orakzai Agency, left their homes after the Taliban demanded 50 million rupees [$622,200]. The Taliban announced that they would provide protection for religious minorities if they paid the amount, but the tax is so financially debilitating that minorities had to flee.

Religious minorities living in another tribal area have already paid 20 million rupees [$248,860] as 'tax' to the Taliban after militants forcibly occupied some of their homes and kidnapped a Sikh leader last month.

News of a planned assault on the Taliban in Swat Valley by the Pakistani Army is a welcome breakthrough in the face of this extreme violation of the rights of religious minorities.

Jeremy Sewall, ICC's Advocacy Director, said, "We urge the Pakistani Army to completely root the Taliban out of Swat Valley. Only the total defeat of the Taliban can ensure protection of the fundamental right to religious freedom that the Christians and Sikhs of the Swat Valley deserve."

 

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ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.  For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.

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