Today, the Vatican press agency Fides provides more details about the Islamist rebels’ new sharia courts that I reported on yesterday. These Islamic courts, manned by a Saudi judge and others, have been established in the Idlib countryside, in Syria’s northwest, the area where Fr. Francois Murad was murdered last month. The rebels are calling this territory they’ve now conquered the “Caliphate of Saraqib.”
Farid, a local Syrian Muslim and social activist, told Fides about what he termed “an ideology of ethnic cleansing,” and described the working of the courts as follows:
In this situation, inconceivable for the history and tradition of Syria, everything becomes possible. We live in an atmosphere of terror, in insecurity. It is possible for beheadings to occur — he explains — because for this ideology the infidel must be beheaded. For other minor offenses, the men’s limbs are mutilated, beaten or flogged. A fatwa is sufficient and any abuse of human rights becomes legal, especially on minorities such as Christians, Alawites, Ismaili, Shia, Druze, but also on the Sunni Muslims. The Islamists freely dispose of the life of religious minorities. The minorities are spared for ‘clemency’ only if they pay the jizya, the tax imposed by the Muslim majority.
No doubt it was this situation that prompted the recent lament of Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the head of the Franciscan Custodianship of the Holy Land: “The world must know that the support of gunmen by the West is helping extremists in killing Syrians. With such stances, not a single Christian will remain in the East.”