Collective punishment for Egypt's Christians is common. Earlier this year, when a Christian was accused of dating a Muslim woman, 22 Christian homes were set ablaze to cries of "Allahu Akbar" ; when Muslims made false accusations against another Christian, one was killed, ten hospitalized, an old woman thrown out of her second floor balcony, and homes and properties were plundered and torched, as documented in a report aptly titled "Collective Punishment of Egyptian Christians."
Nor are such examples limited to Egypt: when Muhammad cartoons deemed blasphemous by Muslims were published in Europe, Christians in faraway Muslim countries such as Nigeria were killed; when Pope Benedict quoted history deemed unflattering by Muslims, anti-Christian riots around the Muslim world ensued, churches were burned, and a nun was murdered in Somalia. Months ago, when an American pastor from a fringe group burned a Koran, dozens of U.N. aid workers were killed by Muslims in Afghanistan; some were beheaded.
This practice of attacking one set of Christians as retribution for the acts of another set has roots in Islamic law. The Pact of Omar, a foundational text for Islam's treatment of dhimmis, makes clear that the consequences of breaking any of the debilitating and humiliating conditions non-Muslims are made to accept -- such as to be granted a degree of unguaranteed safety by the Muslim state -- were stark: "If we in any way violate these undertakings … we forfeit our covenant, and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition"—penalties that include enslavement, rape, and death.