1910 Shiraz blood libel

The 1910 Shiraz blood libel was a pogrom of the Jewish quarter in Shiraz, Iran, on October 30, 1910, organized by the apostate Qavam family[1] and sparked by accusations that the Jews had ritually killed a Muslim girl. In the course of the pogrom, 12 Jews were killed and about 50 were injured,[2] and 6,000 Jews of Shiraz were robbed of all their possessions.[3] The event was documented by the representative of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Shiraz.


There has been a significant Jewish population in Iran for 2,500 years. Pogroms have not been unknown. In 1892, several Jews were murdered in Shiraz. Twenty Jews were murdered and three synagogues were burned down in 1897. Pogroms, forced conversion and expulsion swept Zarqon, Lar, Jahrom, Darab, Nobendigan, Sarvestan and Kazerun.[1] Jamshid Sedaghat, a historian in Shiraz, has said attacks happened annually during the late 19th century, finally ending as a result of pressure from Europe. The last of these occurred in 1910.[4][5][6]

Events of 1910

October 1910

In the beginning of October 1910, while cleaning the cesspools of a Jewish house in Shiraz, some scavengers claimed to have found an old book, some pages of which remained clean and were recognized as a part of the Qur'an. Under Islam the judgment for corrupting the Koran is death, whether carried out by a Muslim or not. Then, on the first day of Sukkot, several Jews were coming home from a synagogue when they saw a veiled woman standing at the entrance of their house with a parcel. Seeing that she was noticed, the woman hurriedly threw the parcel into a cesspool (that were located near the front door in all Jewish houses) and ran away. The dwellers of the house promptly pulled out the parcel and found it to be a copy of the Qur'an. After being informed of this incident and fearing further provocations, the representative of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in the city contacted Mirza Ibrahim, the chief mullah of Shiraz, who promised to ignore the provocation and lend his assistance in case of need.[2]

Allegations of ritual murder

Next evening, some people entered the houses of the two chief rabbis of Shiraz, Mollah Meir Moshe Dayanim and Mirza Ibrahim. They were accompanied by a bazaar merchant, who stated that one of his children, a girl of four, had disappeared in the afternoon in the Jewish quarter, where she had been killed to obtain her blood. The frightened rabbis swore that they did not know that a child of Muslim parents had strayed into the Jewish quarter and protested against the accusation. The people withdrew after threatening to put the entire Jewish quarter to fire and sword if the girl had not been found by noon the next day. On the same day, the body of a child was found one kilometer away from the city behind an abandoned palace, one hundred meters from the Jewish cemetery. Some thought that the body was that of the missing Muslim girl and that she had been killed by the Jews. Subsequently it was found to be the disinterred body of a Jewish boy who had been buried eight days previously.[2]


The next morning, a crowd began to gather in front of the government palace; the people were accusing the Jews of murdering the girl and were vociferously demanding vengeance. The temporary governor ordered the troops to attack the "mob", and the crowd headed for the Jewish quarter, where they arrived simultaneously with the soldiers. The latter, contrary to the orders given to them, were the first to attack the Jewish quarters, giving the rest of the mob a signal to plunder. Soldiers, sayyids, Qashqais who were in the city to sell some livestock, even women and children, joined in the pillage, which lasted for six to seven hours, not sparing a single one of 260 houses in the Jewish quarter.[7] The representative of the Alliance Israélite Universelle thus described the robbing:

|The thieves formed a chain in the street. They passed along the line carpets, bundles of goods, bales of merchandise [...], anything, in a word, which was salable. Anything, which did not have commercial value or which, on account of its weight or size, could not be carried off, was, in a fury of vandalism, destroyed and broken. The doors and windows of the houses were torn off their hinges and carried away or smashed to pieces. The rooms and cellars were literally ploughed up to see whether the substratum did not conceal some wealth.[2]

The people did not limit themselves to alleged robbery, but also engaged in combat against the Jews. Most Jews fled, some to their Muslim friends' homes, others in the British consulate, on the terraces, and in mosques. Those few who stayed were injured or killed. Twelve were killed in the mêlée, another fifteen were stabbed or hit with bludgeons or bullets, and a further forty sustained minor injuries.[2]


As a result of the pogrom, the Jewish quarter was completely devastated:

Women, men, and old folk are rolling in the dust, beating their chests and demanding justice. Others, plunged into a state of genuine stupor, appear to be unconscious and in the throes of an awful nightmare which won't end.[2]

Relief efforts were organized by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, assisted by the British consul. Some local Muslims helped too, distributing bread, grapes, and money. One wealthy Muslim sent a ton of bread, the governor sent two tons, and the chief mufti a further 400 kilograms.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b Laurence D Loeb (4 May 2012). Outcaste (RLE Iran D): Jewish Life in Southern Iran. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-136-81277-4. In 1892, several Jews were murdered in Shiraz (Alliance, 1892:52). Twenty Jews were murdered and three synagogues were burned down in 1897 (Alliance, 1897:87). Pogroms, forced conversion and expulsion swept Zarqon, Lar, Jahrom, Darab, Nobendigan, Sarvestan and Kazerun (Alliance, 1900—1910). Jews abandoned Lar and Jabrom. which were never resettled, and emigrated to Shiraz and thence to Palestine, where they joined the numerous Shirazis who had previously escaped. Just after the holiday of Sukkot in 1910, a pogrom organized by the apostate Qavam family resulted in thirteen deaths, injury, theft. vandalism and near starvation for the 6000 Jews of Shiraz (Alliance, 1910:229—245).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Littman (1979) pp. 12–14
  3. ^ Littman (1979), p. 12
  4. ^ Dinmore, Guy (2000-05-20). "Off Centre: An ancient community that is slipping away". Financial Times (London,England).
  5. ^ Simon, Rita J (September 1980). "Review of "Outcaste: Jewish Life in Southern Iran by Laurence D. Loeb"". American Anthropologist. 2. 82 (3): 675–676. doi:10.1525/aa.1980.82.3.02a00960. - "Indeed, Loeb begins his description of the Jewish community in Shiraz in 1968, with an account of what happened in 1910 when the last major pogrom was initiated against the Jews of Shiraz. After the murder, pillage, rape, and vandalism finally ended, the entire community of 6,000 was virtually homeless and terrorized."
  6. ^ *Lewis, Bernard (1984). The Jews of Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00807-8, p. 183 - "Even the accusation of ritual murder, not known in the past, reached Iran, and a particularly bad case occurred in Shiraz in 1910."
  7. ^ Littman (1979), p. 13


External links

  • Farideh Goldin. Wedding Song: Memoirs of an Iranian Jewish Woman [1]

The Allahdad was an 1839 violent riot and forced conversion against the Jews of Mashhad, Khorasan, Qajar Iran. After forced conversion of the Mashhadi Jews to Islam, many practiced Crypto-Judaism. The incident was important in the aspect that an entire community was forced to convert, and it was one of the first times European Jewry intervened on behalf of Iranian Jews.The event was first described in Joseph Wolff's 1845 travelogue "Narrative of a mission to Bokhara", in which he wrote:

On Monday, the 11th of March, I arrived at Askerea, two miles distant from Meshed. I had sent on before the King's mehmoondar, and the gholam of the British embassy. The first who came to meet me was Mullah Mehdee (Meshiakh), the Jew with whom I had lodged twelve years ago, and who treated me most hospitably when in distress and misery and poverty, previous to the arrival of Abbas Mirza at Meshed, from Nishapoor.

All the Jews of Meshed, a hundred and fifty families, were compelled seven years ago, to turn Mussulmans. The occasion was as follows: A poor woman had a sore hand; a Mussulman physician advised her to kill a dog and put her hand in the blood of it; she did so; when suddenly the whole population rose, and said that they had done it in derision of their Prophet. Thirty-five Jews were killed in a few minutes; the rest, struck with terror, became Muhammedans ; and fanatic and covetous Muhammedans shouted, "Light of Muhammed has fallen upon them!" They are now more zealous Jews in secret than ever; but call themselves, like the Jews in Spain, Anusim, "the compelled ones!" Their children cannot suppress their feelings when their parents call them by their Muhammedan names! But Mullah Mehdee and Mullah Moshe believe in Christ, and Mullah Mehdee asked me to baptize him. He has been of the greatest use to the English in Heraut and Candahar, as his testimonials from Rawlinson and others amply testify.

In another narrative of the same event this incident happened during the Shia holy month on Muharram. The Shias were marching in the streets in memory of Hussein ibn Ali when the Jewish woman was throwing away the dog she killed for medical reasons. She was accused of deliberately offending the shi'is.Still another narrative reports that the dog was only a pretext and the conflict was because of earlier confrontations between a Sayyid (descendent of Muhammad) and the Jews who did not want to pay him for the Husainia he built near the Jewish commercial shops. In any case the recommendation by a Muslim physician seems unlikely as both Islamic and Jewish laws would consider dog's blood to be impure.

Mashhad's ruler had ordered his men to enter Jewish homes and mobs attacked the Jewish community, burning down the synagogue, looting homes, abducting girls, and killing between 30 and 40 people. With knives held to their throats, the Jewish patriarchs were forced to vocally proclaim their "allegiance" to Islam as it was agreed upon by the leaders of the community that in order to save the remaining 2,400 Jews, everyone must convert. Most converted and stayed in Mashhad, taking on Muslim names, while some left for other Iranian Jewish communities and to Afghanistan. That day became known as the Allahdad ("God’s Justice").This event might also be understood in larger Jewish-Persian relations. Many Jews of Mashhad, including the chief of the local Jewish community, Mullah Mahdi Aqajan, served as British agents. This fact in addition to recent withdrawal of Iran from Herat in 1838 under British pressure, created an increasingly hostile atmosphere towards the Jews in Mashhad. Few years after the incident with the intervention of Moses Montefiore the head of British Jewry at the time, Jews were allowed by Muhammad Shah's decree to return to Judaism. However most Jews fearing the anger of the local population decided to live outwardly as Muslims and living as crypto-Jews.

On the outside, they acted as Muslims: their clothes, names, and lifestyles resembled those of their Iranian neighbors. At home, however, they secretly taught their children to read Hebrew, lit candles, and observed Shabbat.

Some Mashhadi Jews did not feel safe in Mashhad anymore and decided to move to other cities in the area such as Bukhara and Samarqand. A large group moved to Herat in present-day Afghanistan, where the majority of the Muslims were Sunni and more tolerant of the Jews than the Shiites.Nearly a century passed before Mashad's Jews started practicing their faith openly with the coming of the more liberal Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979). After World War II, most of them settled in Tehran, Israel, or New York City, with 4,000 moving to the United States, where many ran successful jewelry and carpet businesses. The commercial district in Great Neck, New York, has been reshaped to serve the needs of Mashhadis and other Iranian Jews. Many businesses there cater to Iranian customs and taste.

Worldwide there are 20,000 Mashhadis, of which about 10,000 live in Israel. Of the Mashhadis in the United States, many of them live in Great Neck, New York.

Blood libel

Blood libel or ritual murder libel (also blood accusation) is an antisemitic canard accusing Jews of murdering Christian children in order to use their blood as part of religious rituals. Historically, these claims—alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration—have been a major theme of the persecution of Jews in Europe.Blood libels typically claim that Jews require human blood for the baking of matzos for Passover, although this element was allegedly absent in the earliest cases which claimed that then-contemporary Jews reenacted the crucifixion. The accusations often assert that the blood of the children of Christians is especially coveted, and, historically, blood libel claims have been made in order to account for the otherwise unexplained deaths of children. In some cases, the alleged victim of human sacrifice has become venerated as a martyr. Three of these – William of Norwich, Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, and Simon of Trent – became objects of local cults and veneration, and in some cases they were added to the General Roman Calendar. One, Gavriil Belostoksky, was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church.

In Jewish lore, blood libels were the impetus for the creation of the Golem of Prague by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel in the 16th century. According to Walter Laqueur:

Altogether, there have been about 150 recorded cases of blood libel (not to mention thousands of rumors) that resulted in the arrest and killing of Jews throughout history, most of them in the Middle Ages. In almost every case, Jews were murdered, sometimes by a mob, sometimes following torture and a trial.

The term 'blood libel' has also been used to refer to any unpleasant or damaging false accusation, and it has taken on a broader metaphorical meaning. However, this usage remains controversial, and Jewish groups have objected to such usage.

Exodus of Iran's Jews

Exodus of Iran's Jews refers to the emigration of Persian Jews from Pahlavy Iran in 1950s and the later migration wave from Iran during and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, during which the community of 80,000 dropped to less than 20,000. The migration of Persian Jews after the Iranian Revolution is mostly attributed to fear of religious persecution, economic hardships and insecurity after the deposition of the Shah regime, consequent domestic violence and the Iran–Iraq War.

Whilst the Iranian constitution generally respects the rights of non-Muslim minorities (though there are some forms of discrimination), the strong anti-Zionist policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran created a tense and uncomfortable situation for Iranian Jews, who became vulnerable to the accusation of alleged collaboration with Israel.

Many of the formerly 80,000-strong Iranian Jewish community had exited Iran by 1978. Subsequently, more than 80% of the remaining Iranian Jews fled or migrated from the country between 1979 and 2006. A small Jewish community of 7–10 thousands still resides in Iran as a protected minority.

List of massacres in Iran

This is a list of massacres in Iran.

Timeline of Shiraz

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Shiraz, Iran.

Timeline of antisemitism in the 20th century

This timeline of antisemitism chronicles the facts of antisemitism, hostile actions or discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group, in the 20th century. It includes events in the history of antisemitic thought, actions taken to combat or relieve the effects of antisemitism, and events that affected the prevalence of antisemitism in later years. The history of antisemitism can be traced from ancient times to the present day.

For events specifically pertaining to the expulsion of Jews, see Jewish refugees.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Roman Catholic Church adhered to a distinction between "good antisemitism" and "bad antisemitism". The "bad" kind promoted hatred of Jews because of their descent. This was considered un-Christian because the Christian message was intended for all of humanity regardless of ethnicity; anyone could become a Christian. The "good" kind criticized alleged Jewish conspiracies to control newspapers, banks, and other institutions, to care only about accumulation of wealth, etc. Many Catholic bishops wrote articles criticizing Jews on such grounds, and, when accused of promoting hatred of Jews, would remind people that they condemned the "bad" kind of antisemitism.

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