Norman A.Stillman-The Jews of arab land-1979- The Tetouan pogrom of 1790


The Tetouan pogrom of 1790

On the 17th of the past month (April 1790), as the new ruler (Mawlay Yazid) entered the city of Tetouan, he commanded that all the Jews should be gathered and imprisoned in a house, meanwhile permitting the Moors to rob all their homes and cellars, which they obeyed with their own particular ferocity. Thus, they stripped all the Jews and their wives of all the clothes which they had on their body with the greatest violence, so that these unfortunates not only had to watch all their belongings being stolen, but also had to bear the greatest injury to their honor. During all this, six or eight Jews lost their lives, not counting the large number of children who met a similar fate in such general disorder. For three full days most of the Jews remained naked in the prison. A few in order to escape from their personal misfortunes, fled to the graves of the Moorish saints where they were hardly certain of their lives.

At this point Mawlay Yazid ordered that the head of a Jew who had served his father, the late king, be cut off, and stuck it for display on the ramparts of the city. Another Jew, who for many years had overseen the Spanish ships in the Tetouan harbor at the order and petition of the consul—since at that time no Christian could remain there—was hung by his feet for thirty-six hours on account of sundry accusations of the Moroccans, until finally his head was cut off and his body burned.

He gave complete license to more than 2000 Blacks(2)  to plunder the houses of the Jews, which the above-mentioned hordes obeyed to the letter. But on top of this, their bestiality showed itself to such an extent that they stripped the Jewesses of their clothes, forthwith satisfied their desires with them, and then threw them naked into the streets. Some of these un­fortunates fled that very same night to the tomb of a Moorish saint, others to the mosque where they met the king. As he walked past them the fol­lowing day, they cried to him, “Long live Mawlay Yazid!” This appeared to touch the almost impervious heart of the tyrant a little, since he immeditely ordered it proclaimed by four heralds that those who in the future did any harm to a Jew or Jewess would be punished in the most severe fashion. But this order was all too late because all these families had already been ruined in reality.

Report of Franz von Dombay to the Hapsburg Chancellery (May 17, 1790), Marokko Karton 3, No. 17 in Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Vienna, ed. and trans. N. A. Stillman, “Two Accounts of the Persecution of the Jews of Tetouan in 1790,” Michael, vol. 5 (Tel Aviv, 1978), pp. 133-41.

1-In 1770, Sidi Muhammad, Mawlay Yazld’s father, banned all further European residence in Tetouan after a Muslim woman was accidently wounded by a European while hunting. See William Lempriere, A Tour from Gibraltar to Tangier, Sallee, Mogodore, Santa Cruz, Tarudant . . . (London, 1791), p. 7; and Louis de Chenier, The Present State of the Empire of Morocco, vol. 1 (London, 1788), p. 19.

2-These were the Negro slave-soldiers known as the cabid al-Bukari. Concerning them, see Allan Richard Meyers, “The °Abid l-Buhari: Slave Soldiers and Statecraft in Morocco, 1762—1790” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell Uni­versity, 1974).


Norman A.Stillman-The Jews of arab land-1979- The Tetouan pogrom of 1790

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