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Recalling the post-Ottoman tax on non-Muslims

November 17, 2011

In November, 1942, the government of Turkey imposed the varlik vergisi, a tax on wealth, assets, and capital, that was applied mostly and at the highest rates against Turkish non-Muslims.  The rates were often higher than 100 percent of one’s total wealth.  The non-Muslims who could not afford to pay the tax where railroaded off to forced labor camps.

A recent article from Today’s Zaman noted that, “Within the scope of wealth tax payment requirements, 1,229 non-Muslims were sent to Aşkale via the Haydarpaşa railroad station in İstanbul to perform the jobs assigned to them.”  According to Wikipedia, 21 non-Muslims died at the labor camps.  The government collected over 320 million Turkish lira (approximately 270 million USD at the time) from Assyrians, Chaldeans, Greeks, Jews, and Armenians through the tax.

The varlik vergisi showed that the devshirme blood tax and the jizya against non-Muslims from the days of the Ottoman Empire could not be permanently purged from the “secularist” Turkish regime that replaced it.

Fortunately, Turkey rescinded the tax in 1944.

However, Turkey continues to impose the jizya against Greek Cypriots to this day, according to published reports.

Discriminatory taxes against non-Muslims in the post-caliphate Islamic world are much overlooked but not uncommon, whether it was the Turkish varlik vergisi, Malaysia’s bumiputra system, or government-endorsed jizya against Sikhs in Pakistan, Jews in Yemen, and Copts in Egypt.

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One comment

  1. WOW, its well known that Turks were the 1st to implement the Gas Chamber as a ‘mass-killing industry’.. an Idea which later Nazis also borrowed, and used in their version of Gas Chambers for mass annihilation of fellow beings … especially after Amin al Husseini, carried the chapters of genocide from Armenia to inhumane Third Reich and asked Nazis to kill all Jews few days before wannsee conference ( where ‘final solution’ plans were laid) !

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide#Use_of_poison_and_drug_overdoses

    but its new to me that they were running those camps, through out the history, including after foundation of Modern Turkey…. world almost never discussed it that Turkey was running concentration camps in parallel (or should i say in conjunction ?) to Nazi’s Third Reich ..



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