Zamane, a Moroccan newspaper, has made a rare reference to the mass conversion of the Jews of Fez in the 15th century. It is a little known episode in the history of Morocco. (With thanks: Michelle)
Jewish homes with their distinctive balconies in the Mellah of Fez
An official of the French protectorate who was involved in collecting testimony on behalf of Mohamed V in 1953, tells how the Jews of Fez, the
“Muhajirin”, had to convert to Islam, giving rise to great Fassi families
that are thought to have always been Muslim.
One Marcel Vallat stumbled on an old manuscript recounting this episode. The unknown author describes an event itself little known in the history of Morocco. The text tells how, in fact, in the thirteenth century (sic : actually 15th c – ed), many Fez Jews
converted to Islam. They abandoned their faith after a great
massacre that decimated part of their community in Fez and opened the
way to a mass conversion to Islam.
The document was part of a collection, or Mejmoue,
belonging to an old Alawite from Rabat, Moulay Abderrahmane, better known
under the name “Moulay El Kebir”.
Vallat translated the title as “History of Muhajirs”, using the modern word for ‘citizens’. The manuscript was due to be
offered to Mohammed Ben Abderrahman, Sultan Mohammed IV (1859-1873) who
was the father of Moulay Hassan, the future Hassan I (1873- 1894). The document dates from the second half of the nineteenth century. After the death of Hassan I it fell into the hands of the
famous “Moulay El Kebir” who had agreed to lend it to the young Vallat.
The Arabic text is archived in the Royal Library. It
was studied first by the Fqih El Manouni and medievalist historian by
Mohamed Fatha (this scholarly analysis was published by Bouregreg in 2004).
for Marcel Vallat, he went back to France after Morocco became independent in 1956 and withdrew
completely from public life, cutting all ties with Morocco, where he
had made virtually his entire administrative career.