Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On this day, a pogrom in Shiraz

 Bazaar in Shiraz (Wikipedia)

 Plus ca change in the Muslim world: a rumour that the Jews have desecrated the Koran, or ritually murdered a gentile spreads like wildfire and ends in tragedy. Rather than quell the disturbance, the authorities connive with the mob to loot Jewish property. On this day, 30 October, 102  years ago, it was the turn of the Jews of Shiraz to suffer.  Haaretz reports:

On October 30, 1910, 12 members of the Jewish community of Shiraz, Iran, were killed and the city’s Jewish quarter plundered, as angry mobs responded to an accusation that Jews had ritually murdered a Muslim girl.

Records of a Jewish presence in Shiraz, a large city in southern Persia, go back to the 10th century, and in the 12th century the traveler Benjamin of Tudela reported a community of some 10,000. By the 20th century, that number was far smaller, and many Jews had converted to Islam or carried out their faith in secret because of persecution. Pogroms were not unusual, and the events of October 30 were not unique.

The pogrom of that day followed rumors of Jewish desecration of a Koran. Despite the efforts of a representative of the French human-rights organization (actually a schools network founded on human rights principles - ed) Alliance Israelite Universelle in Shiraz to alleviate tensions, the situation worsened when the body of Muslim girl was reported to have been found near the Jewish cemetery. (The Alliance representative later reported that the decayed remains found turned out to belong to a Jewish girl who had died some time before.)

An angry mob gathered, and rather than being dispersed by government troops, was actually led by them in surrounding and then attacking the Jewish quarter. Over the course of the following hours, every home in the quarter was looted, and everything with valuable belonging to the quarter’s residents was stolen.

Although most of the Jews escaped, among those who remained or tried to defend themselves, a dozen were killed and more than 50 wounded. According to the first-hand account filed the next day by the Alliance representative, “the 5,000 to 6,000 people comprising the Shiraz community now possess nothing in the world but the few tatters they were wearing when their quarter was invaded.”

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