Anglo-Jewry and Essaouira (Mogador), 1860—1900: the social implications of philanthropy

A certain foreign gentleman wanted, ironically, to know if Mogador belonged to the Sultan or to Queen Victoria. The response, with hand on heart, was ‘Bijujhum ya senor’ – ‘to both, sir’. (R. L. N. Johnston, Morocco: The Land of the Setting Sun (London 1912) 40.)

Foreign visitors to Essaouira during the 19th century tended to express surprise at finding so much English influence in this southern Moroccan Atlantic coastal port. The sight of Moroccan Jewish men strutting the streets of the casbah in their top hats and fine Manchester suits was certainly unusual in precolonial society. The English, French, or German traveller, received in the home of a wealthy Jewish merchant, would sometimes find women in Victorian attire, practising the piano and speaking English (see plate 1). Although the houses of the casbah were in a traditional Moroccan style – several floors high, enclosing inner courtyards, with stores of

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