Iraq: Top cleric says Christians must convert to Islam, be killed, or pay tax


Date:                                                    May 24, 2017

By Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

IRAQ (ANS - May 24, 2017) --One of Iraq’s most senior government Shia clerics mimicked the hateful rhetoric of ISIS by declaring in a recent sermon that Christian “infidels” must convert to Islam, be killed, or pay a tax known as jizya.

Iraq clericSheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi, the head of Iraq’s Shia endowment, made the remarks in southern Iraq, captured in a YouTube video published May 17th.

In response, almost 200 Iraqi Christian families filed a lawsuit against the Sheikh, charging that he is fomenting sectarian violence against Christians in a manner reminiscent of the extremist group ISIS, according to the Middle East Monitor (MEM).

The irony is that Iraq is a key ally in the fight against ISIS, but Iran’s growing influence in the country does not bode well for Christians.

Al-Mousawi is in charge of the government body that maintains Iraq’s Shia holy sites, including mosques and schools.

He described Christians as “infidels and polytheists” and stressed the need for “jihad” against them. He has also said that “Jews and Christians” must be fought and killed if they do not accept Islam, with the same fate awaiting Zoroastrians as well as Sabians, another Iraqi religious community, according to MEM.

In the video clip highlighted below he said, “The second group are the People of the Book. The People of the Book must be fought, known as the infidels, the People of the Book, who are Jews and Christians. For the same reason, it is to compel their conversion to Islam. Either they convert to Islam, or else they are killed or they pay the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims), depending on any agreements with the leader of the Muslims who is the Prophet (Muhammad) or the Imam.

“Of course in this ruling they are also joined by the Zoroastrians and Sabians. I mean we deal with the Zoroastrians and the Sabians the same way we deal with the Jews and Christians and the same judgment applies to them,” he said.

Photo captions: 1) Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi. 2) Mark Ellis.


Mark EllisAbout the writer: Mark Ellis is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (, and is also the founder of, a website that shares testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions. Previously, Mark co-hosted a TV show called “Windows on the World” with ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, aired on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (, which is now co-hosted by Dr. Garry Ansdell, Senior Pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, California.

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