The Islamic State has issued a "safety contract" for Christians living in Qaryatian, Syria comprised of 11 specific commandments, including one which prohibits praying out loud to Jesus Christ under penalty of death.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Christians in the captured town will have to pay the jizyah or jizya tax imposed on non-Muslims, in addition to the other commandments issued by the extremist group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The watchdog group listed the 11 stipulations, which prohibit: the establishment of churches, the displaying of crosses, making Muslims hear Christian prayers or rituals of worship, the hiding of spies, offending Islamic religious beliefs, the carrying of weapons, the sale of pork or wine to Muslims, and failing to dress modestly.
The list of rules concluded, "If they comply with these conditions, so they have are safe in their lands, money and souls, and they are not going to pay one-tenth except they bring money to trade from outside the IS territories not oppressor nor oppressed. None of them is going to be punished under a sin committed by another else of them. In case they violate the conditions of this writ, then 'Islamic State' is going to deal with them as they deal with people of war (warriors)."
As reported by the Gospel Herald, the jihadist group captured Qaryatain after heavy combat with the Syrian army in early August. At least 230 people were kidnapped amid the fighting, including numerous Christians who were seeking refuge in a church.
The town is thought to have a mixed population of around 40,000 people, including Sunni Muslims and Christians, as well as thousands of people who have fled fighting elsewhere in the country, the BBC notes.
Speaking to the International Business Times, Nahren Anweya, an Assyrian-American activist, said that the extremist group is seeking to suppress any Christian presence in the region.
"Our entire ancestral homelands have been completely taken and now they won't even allow us to sustain our religious faith in one God and his son Jesus Christ, " Anweya said.
"We have been purged out of Mosul, Nineveh, Khabour, Hassaka, Qaryatian and many more ancestral Assyrian homelands. They took our native homelands, our girls, our churches and now they want the few lives we have left."
At least 450,000 of Syria's pre-2011 Christian population of 1.17 million are either internally displaced or living as refugees abroad, the Catholic Herald reports.
"Given this tsunami of emigration... what future is left for the Church? What will become of our homeland? What will become of our parishes and institutions?" Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III said in an open letter."Despite all your suffering, stay! Be patient! Don't emigrate! Stay for the Church, your homeland, for Syria and its future! Stay! Do stay.