Antiqua Print Gallery Moroccan Jews
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Moroccan Jews

The 19th century, which brought emancipation to the Jews of most lands, left those of Morocco on the whole in their old state of sad monotony and stagnation. Every new war in which Morocco became involved in that century with any foreign country sacrificed the Jews of one district or another of the sultanate to the general depression and discontent which an unsuccessful war usually calls forth in political and commercial life. The war with France in 1844 brought new misery and ill treatment upon the Moroccan Jews, especially upon those of Mogador (known as Essaouira). When the war with Spain broke out in September 22, 1859, the Moors had nothing more fitting to do than to plunder the houses of friendly Jewish families in Tetuan. Most of the Jews saved their lives only by fleeing. About 400 were killed. A like result followed the conflict with Spain in 1853 in consequence of the violent acts of the cliff-dwellers in Melilla.
In 1863 Sir Moses Montefiore and the Board of Deputies of British Jews received a telegram from Morocco asking for help for nine or ten Jews who were imprisoned at Safi on suspicion of having killed a Spaniard. Two others had already been executed at the instigation of the Spanish consul; one of them publicly in Tangier, the other in Safi. Sir Moses, supported by the English government, undertook a journey to Morocco to demand the liberation of the imprisoned Jews and, as he said in a letter to the sultan, to move the latter "to give the most positive orders that the Jews and Christians, dwelling in all parts of Your Majesty's dominions, shall be perfectly protected, and that no person shall molest them in any manner whatsoever in anything which concerns their safety and tranquillity; and that they may be placed in the enjoyment of the same advantages as all other subjects of Your Majesty,". Montefiore was successful in both attempts. The prisoners were liberated; and on February 15, 1864, the sultan published an edict granting equal rights of justice to the Jews
This edict of emancipation was confirmed by Mohammed IV's son and successor, Moulay Hasan I, on his accession to the throne 1873, and again on September 18, 1880, after the conference in Madrid. Such edicts and promises of a similar nature made from time to time to the Alliance Israélite Universelle, even if they are seriously intended, are, however, absolutely useless, since they are not carried into effect by the local magistrates, and if they were they would cause the old, deeply rooted hatred of the population to burst forth into flames. Thus, for example, the sultan Sulaiman (1795-1822) decreed that the Jews of Fez might wear shoes; but so many Jews were killed in broad daylight in the streets of that city that they themselves asked the sultan to repeal the edict. According to a statistical report of the Alliance Israélite Universelle for the years 1864-80 no less than 307 Jews were murdered in the city and district of Morocco, which crimes, although brought to the attention of the magistracy upon every occasion, remained unpunished.

(Source Wikipedia)