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Militants Set Down Strict Laws for Christians in Syrian City

CAIRO - An extremist Islamist group disowned by al Qaeda has brought back seventh-century laws to govern Christians living in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which it took over last year.

According to a document obtained by NBC News, a 12-point decree issued by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) commands Christians to pay a levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection from the group, widely considered to be the most radical among rebels fighting Syrian president Bashar Assad.

“Christians should commit to pay Jizya on every adult male, the equivalent of 4 dinars of gold, (equivalent to 4.25 grams of gold) on rich families, and half on middle class and half of that on poor families,” according to the document. “They should not hide their income level and should pay in two installments per year.”

Ringing church bells, praying in public and displaying religious insignia has also been banned. The directive also prohibits Christians from renovating churches or other buildings, even if they have been destroyed during the three-year civil war.

Selling pork or wine to Muslims, and drinking wine in public were also been banned.

The extreme and violent group made up largely of foreign fighters, cited the Islamic legal precept of “dhimma,” a set of guidelines for non-Muslims living under Islamic rule that dates back to the seventh century.

After repelling an offensive last month by rival Islamists and more moderate rebels, ISIL has turned its attention to setting up a state based on a radical interpretation of Islamic law.

Henry Austin reported from London. Reuters contributed to this report.