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Thursday, April 25, 2013

How Muslims persecuted the Jews of Shiraz (Persia), 1893

You know how Iranians like to pretend that they have always treated their Jewish subjects with respect?

Well, not so much.

From "Jewish Missionary Intelligence," July, 1893:

Shiraz has the largest Jewish population in the south. Their number is 5,000, and they occupy 430 houses in their own quarter, called Mahale Yahoodian i.e., "the quarter of the Jews." They have ten large synagogues, two chief Rabbis, and five schools, where the children study Hebrew. No one knows the Talmud except the Rabbis. They read Hebrew in order to be able to say their prayers in the synagogue. Not one Jew in Shiraz can read the Persian language, or speak it properly. They speak a jargon Persian, quite different from the Jews of other parts of Persia.

All the Jews are very anxious to have a proper school in which to learn the Persian and European languages. By occupation they are goldsmiths and silversmiths, and have their shops on the back streets of the Mohammedan quarter. There are a good many petty merchants, who go to Fessa and Jahroom to buy opium, and return to Shiraz where they sell it to the Mohammedans on credit.

...Nowhere in Persia are the Jews so badly persecuted as in Shiraz. The chief Mollah has promulgated the following laws with regards to them:

1st. "They must not wear ordinary clothes like the Mohammedans." This law is carried to such an extent that no Jew dare put on a black hat like the Moslems.

2nd. "The Jews must not ride on horse, mule, or donkey to the towns." (I did not see one Jew acting contrary to this law.)

3rd. "A pervert to the Mohammedan religion has a right to claim the whole property of his deceased relative." At the present time the perverts have not so much power as before, and dare not claim the whole of the property, but they trouble their relatives, and get about 500 kerans from them, and then leave them in peace.

4th. "If a Mohammedan is in debt to a Jew, the Jew must not force him to pay, but the Moslem may pay his debt at his own pleasure; but if a Jew owes to a Mohammedan he must pay him on the first notice."

5th "If a Mollah or priest beats a Jew in the street or abuses him, that Jew must not return the abuse, but must pass on quietly."

These laws are in some respects similar to those enacted by the Mollahs of Ispahan for the Jews of that town. (See Jewish Intelligence, November, 1889, page 116.) About six years ago, when Prince Zel-El Sultan was the Chief Governor of the whole of the South of Persia, he ordered the Chief Mollah of Shiraz to be brought to Ispahan, because he used to trouble the Jews. He obeyed the order, and come to Ispahan, where he was kept until June, 1888, when the Prince was deposed. He then returned to Shiraz^ and commenced his enmity against the Jews.