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Islamic Apartheid

Over 100 million non-Muslims in the Islamic world live under severe repression. Staff

February 25, 2024

Human Rights

Efraim Karsh wrote in the Jerusalem Post:

Karsh goes on to note religious intolerance, ethnic inequality, racism, denial of citizenship, labor inequality, slavery, and political oppression:

  • "Muslims historically viewed themselves as distinct from, and superior to, all others living under Muslim rule, known as 'dhimmis'... Christians, Jews and Baha’is remain second-class citizens throughout the Arab/Muslim world, and even non-ruling Muslim factions have been oppressed by their dominant co-religionists (e.g. Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia, Sunnis in Syria).

  • "The withholding of citizenship and attendant rights from a large segment of the native-born population is common. Palestinian communities in the Arab states offer the starkest example of this discrimination (in Lebanon, for example, they cannot own property, be employed in many professions, move freely, etc.). The Bidun (stateless peoples) in the Gulf states, and hundreds of thousands of Kurds in Syria have been subjected to similar discrimination...Islamists throughout the Middle East have had no qualms advocating the legalization of slavery."

Karsh further observed that many Middle Eastern regimes are "elaborate repressive systems aimed at perpetuating apartheid-style domination by a small minority: Alawites in Syria; Tikritis in Saddam’s Iraq; the Saudi royal family; the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan." Noting that these "endemic abuses" are "possibly the world’s most arresting anachronism," he concluded that "only when Arab and Muslim societies treat the 'other' as equal will the Middle East, and the rest of the Islamic world, be able to transcend its malaise and look forward to a real political and social spring.”

Features of Islamic Apartheid

Many Muslim-majority nations practice systemic discrimination and apartheid against religious, ethnic, and racial minorities. Segregation along sectarian and ethnic lines is often enshrined in law and tradition.

Egypt, Syria, and many other Islamist nations require citizens to carry identification cards listing their religion, which can often be changed only by court decree and with conversion out of Islam often legally prohibited. Non-Muslims excluded from government and most industries, relegated to menial jobs due to Islamic supremacist provisions of Shari’a law that prohibit a non-Muslim from holding any position of authority over a Muslim. In court, non-Muslims are not permitted to testify against a Muslim, whereas even Muslim children can testify. Contrived accusations of blasphemy that can carry the death penalty are often used by Muslims in Pakistan or elsewhere to extort non-Muslims or settle scores.

Muslim-majority nations overwhelmingly allow Muslims to proselytize Christians and other religious minorities, whereas Christians are not permitted to proselytize Muslims. In many nations, Muslim men can marry Christian women, but Muslim women may not marry a non-Muslim; children of intermarriage are obligatorily raised as Muslims. These and other asymmetric measures have led to rapid Islamization and ongoing declines in non-Muslim populations across the Islamic world.

Illegality of “Dhimmi” Status Under International Law

Apartheid is a form of violence and represents the continuation of hybrid tactics of coercion

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court article 7 (1) enumerates “crimes against humanity:

  • (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

  • (j) The crime of apartheid

  • (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

Article 7 (2) defines key terms:

  • (g) "Persecution" means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity;

  • (h) "The crime of apartheid" means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.

Shari’a Law and its provisions related to “dhimmis” and the systematic deprivation of rights of non-Muslims are thus illegal under international law.

Western Apologists for Islamic Apartheid

Even among the college educated, few Westerners are aware of the extreme oppression and systemic discrimination experienced by non-Muslim minorities under Islamist regimes.  They have been taught that Islam is a tolerant and peaceful faith and that violent extremists represent a small fringe acting contrary to their professed faith.  This message is pervasive in Western education and the press.

Contrary evidence is systematically ignored or downplayed. Ethnic and religious cleansing against Assyrian Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities across the Middle East have often received only passing mention in the Western press with no outcry for their rights and protection in the press or on campus, no follow-up or investigation into the perpetrators’ acts of incitement and indoctrination into hate.

Three main tactics have been used to provide cover in the west for Islamic apartheid and abuses of subjugated peoples. These include:

  • (1) media blackouts ignoring the state of non-Muslim minorities and atrocities committed against them,

  • (2) whitewashing of discrimination and atrocities, and

  • (3) narrative inversions which attempt to switch the perpetrator and the victim or to blame the victim through verbal sleight.

Media Blackouts

When nearly three hundred black Nigerian Christians were massacred on Christmas Eve 2023, the event was blacked out by most Western legacy media and mentioned primarily by Christian ministries that track persecution. On December 25, 2023, Reuters noted “well-coordinated attacks” killing 113 in central Nigeria, but never identifies the victims as Christian worshippers or the perpetrators as Muslim extremists. The agency goes on to blame “climate change” and “expanding agriculture” and falsely suggests that group violence was substantially bilateral rather than overwhelmingly one-sided and unprovoked aggression.

Four days later, Reuters posted a “fact check” entitled “Images of church attack in Nigeria date to 2022, not 2023 violence,” suggesting to headline readers that claims of church attacks in 2023 were bogus. Only in the subtext does Reuters clarify that “more than 100 people were killed and 300 injured” on December 24, 2023, but that one image being shared on social media was from the prior year’s attack. This was of far greater concern to Reuters than the final death count or the identification of the perpetrators, which it never provided.  This is only one episode in the jihad that has killed more than 50,000 Nigerian Christians. Sky News Australia notes the “mass killings in Nigeria that no one is talking about.”


In “Human Rights: The Universal Declaration vs The Cairo Declaration,” Dania Akkad of the London School of Economics noted some of the blatant abrogations of human rights by the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. Yet her account also whitewashes the pervasive and systemic human rights violations.  Akkad asserts that paying the jizya tax guaranteed “religious freedom” for subjugated non-Muslims. Islamic law and tradition prohibits the construction or repair of churches, synagogues, and other non-Muslim worship buildings, bans the preaching of other faiths to Muslims, bans Muslims from leaving the faith, prohibits criticism of Islam which is foundational to open religious discussion, bans non-Muslim men from marrying Muslim women, prevents non-Muslims from supervising Muslims (thus barring most government work and career advancement), and treats non-Muslims as second-class citizens.  Most of these are punishable by death in traditional Islamic societies. Rather, Islamic scholars have clarified that the “protection” afforded by the jizya tax is protection from the Koranic mandate for the unbelievers to be killed and their property confiscated, and for limited worship within their own communities which would inevitably diminish under these severe restrictions.

French demographer Philippe Fargues argued in a Johns Hopkins University review that ongoing population declines among the more than 100 million non-Muslim “dhimmis” subjugated under Islamic law have been largely peaceful and harmonious. His assertions are not based on surveys and interviews with non-Muslim “dhimmis,” nor has he volunteered to experience this status himself. Pervasive human rights violations, systemic discrimination, and endemic violence are swept away with a stroke of the pen. Countless voices of oppressed minority refugees speak to the falsehood of his claim.

Fargues’ extraordinary claims are asserted by fiat. He fails to consider that non-Muslim living under Islamic subjugation are generally silent because they are deprived of the right to speak out and face severe consequences for doing so. Any fair and honest appraisal would acknowledge that captive peoples threatened with death and violence cannot give uncoerced consent to such treatment.  Discrimination and violence against non-Muslims in almost all Muslim majority countries continue to be documented by human rights groups and the US State Department.  Numerous massacres from the early twentieth century Ottoman genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, and other Christians to the ethnic and religious cleansing perpetrated by the Islamic State in the 2010s speak to even more severe risks.

Fargues’ claims are on par with claiming that slavery was an agreeable system that benefited slaves.  Yet his statements are published in a prestigious journal with no apparent pushback from colleagues. Fargues is not a powerless eccentric, but the founding director of the European University Institute’s Migration Center which has advocated far-left migration policies.

Fargues’ arguments echo New York Times columnist Walter Duranty and other Western fellow travelers who extolled the so-called harmonious nature of communist societies in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Cambodia, and elsewhere, turning a blind eye to atrocities and unspeakable human suffering perpetrated by these regimes. Moynihan’s Law, articulated by Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, asserts:

  • "The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country."

By Fargues’ logic, a totalitarian state’s suppression dissent is  evidence of harmonious society and consent of the government. Moynihan’s law tells us that the truth is the precise opposite: severe abuses are pervasive where there is a lack of freedom to speak out.

Narrative Inversion

Apartheid apologists invert the narrative, attempting to swap places of the victim and perpetrator or to blame the victim through verbal sleight.  For example, hundreds of Egyptian Coptic Christians have been murdered and the Coptic community has suffered arson and violence perpetrated by Islamic supremacists. Yet in the West, there has been very little interest in their stories by so-called rights defenders among the media, NGOs and government.  Copts are not invited to speak about “Christianophobia” and Islamic extremism at leading universities or to address the United Nations. They have been marginalized with accusations of “Islamophobia” when not met with utter disinterest.

After various terrorist acts by Islamic supremacists, much of the Western press quickly shifts to pointing at fears and concerns about Islamic terror as evidence of “Islamophobia.” It is claimed that Muslims are the real victims through alleged societal marginalization, whereas the severe oppression of non-Muslims in Islamic societies is rarely even acknowledged.

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