is a neologism
, imported from the French language
, and derived from the Arabic language
, which literally means protected
. "Dhimmitude" adds the productive suffix
"-tude" (as in "attitude" or "servitude") to the word dhimmi
. This creates a noun with a meaning (arguably) distinct from the original Arabic noun dhimma
. Depending on the author, the term "Dhimmitude" has several distinct, but related meanings. Its scope may be historical only, contemporary only, or both. It may encompass the whole system of dhimma
, look only at its subjects (dhimmis
), or even apply it outside of any established system of dhimma
The term was coined in 1982
by the Lebanese Maronite
militia leader Bachir Gemayel
, in reference to perceived attempts by the country's Muslim leadership to subordinate the large Lebanese Christian minority. In a speech of September 14
given at Dayr al-Salib in Lebanon, he said: "Lebanon is our homeland and will remain a homeland for Christians . . . We want to continue to christen, to celebrate our rites and traditions, our faith and our creed whenever we wish . . . Henceforth, we refuse to live in any dhimmitude!
The concept of "dhimmitude" was introduced into Western discourse by the writer Bat Ye'or in a French-language article published in the Italian journal La Rassegna mensile di Israel in 1983. The term was used in English as early as 1985 in a book review by Prof. James E. Biechler in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, in which he praised Ye'or's work, commenting that "Perhaps the single most significant contribution of the author is her definition and development of the concept of 'dhimmitude'". Ye'or further popularised the term in her books The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam. From Jihad to Dhimmitude. Seventh-Twentieth Century and the 2003 followup Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the term became far more widely used, particularly in discussions about Islamism and the Islamization of the West.
Associations and usage
The associations of the word "dhimmitude" vary between users:
- Bat Ye'or defined dhimmitude as the condition and experience of those who are subject to dhimma, and thus not synonymous to, but rather a subset of the dhimma phenomenon: "dhimmitude [...] represents a behavior dictated by fear (terrorism), pacifism when aggressed, rather than resistance, servility because of cowardice and vulnerability. [...] By their peaceful surrender to the Islamic army, they obtained the security for their life, belongings and religion, but they had to accept a condition of inferiority, spoliation and humiliation.
- It may be simply a replacement for the relatively little known (compared to dhimmi) noun dhimma, coined to carry the same meaning. This has already widely happened in French usage where, as in English, "-tude" is a productive suffix.
- A more recent pejorative usage variant of "dhimmi" and "dhimmitude" divorces the words from the historical context of jihad and applies them to situations where non-Muslims in the West are championing Islamic causes above others. "Dhimmi" is treated as analogous to "Quisling" within this context. See, for example, the site Dhimmi Watch.