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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
GB/2/11/4/29
Creator
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Language
English
Location
Iraq ยป Mosul
Coordinates

36.3489278, 43.157736

Thurs Ap 29. [29 April 1909] Breakfasted in Mr Young's courtyard.
Then came Nimrud Rassam, rather an old bore, then Rifa't Effendi a
Turk of Adana [(Seyhan, Ataniya)] and a leading member of the
committee. He and 3 others formed the original secret committee
before the constitution was declared. 2 members were sent from
Salonica [Thessaloniki (Saloniki)] but they were majnun and were of
no use. They brought however the kanun[?]. (Mr Young says they
were both from hereabouts, one from Kerkouk [Kirkuk] with not a
particularly good record. When they arrived, the whole town and the
Vali Kadi etc turned out to meet them. When they left for Kerkouk they
rode across the bridge with one servant. The Committee and the
whole movement here very badly engineered.) All the town declared
Rif'at with the exception of half a dozen of the great people were for
the Constitution. When the news came of the overthrow of the ministry
they telegraphed to Salonica demanding the deposition of the Sultan
(sic) and Salonica telegraphed back gratitude. He believes this was
done all over (Mr Y. does not believe this tale) They had associated
6 heads of ashair on the Committee here, the Beni Tai, some Kurds
etc. There were accustomed to come in once a month. They were
summoned at once and asked to bring in men. They arrived with 700
men. Rif'at went out to Ghazaneh at night to see them and posted
them all over the towns. Instantly the Committee of Ittibad[?]and
Muhammadiyyeh which was taking considerable proportions, caved
in. Its claim upon the public mind was that it professed to go back to
the pure Sheri'a. I said were not the 'ulema anti Dastur. No, said he;
yesterday they had come to the club, "we explained everything to
them" and they sent a telegram to the new Sultan declaring their
loyalty as long as he backed up the Constitution. Mr Young corrected
these views to a great extent by his account of the Bairam
disturbances - 1 and 2 of Jan. It was the last day of Bairam and the
people were all walking about, when a row occurred between one of
the Kerkouki mule corps men and a woman - he insulted a woman.
Instantly the Arab troops {fired on} attacked the Kerkouki and a free
fight began which lasted several hours. Many women killed. The Vali
Zekki, Commandant and other notables fled to the barracks where
they sat and did absolutely nothing. The mule corps were in separate
barracks. Mr Y. has no doubt that the next day's proceedings were
organised by the notables and ulema who wished to embarrass the
govt. A large rabble assembled before the serai and cried out for
vengeance on the Kerkoukis. Now the Kerkouki mule corps has
surrendered -all the men were in the hands of the govt awaiting an
inquiry. The leaders of this rabble then ordered them to go and get
arms. Who so pleased? They all armed and began to raid and
plunder. They surrounded Sayyid Beg's house - he was a holy man
from Suleimaniyyeh [Sulaymaniyah, As] who was living here under
the protection of the govt - and murdered all his family. He an old man
of 85 walked out through the rabble to the serai, which was only a few
steps off, and was struck down and beaten to death. The Vali and
govt did nothing and it was 6 weeks before troops came during which
time there was complete anarchy, Xians beaten in the streets just to
show what equality meant and crime rampant. Finally about 2 months
after the events arrived the new Vali, a very capable man. He
however went off first to Suleimaniyyeh for 6 weeks during which time
things went from bad to worse. Finally he was ordered to return, came
back in a tearing hurry and at once began to arrest and to set things
straight. He was only just in time, the Muhammadiyyeh were rapidly
gaining ground and the position was very critical. One of the big begs
was collecting signatures for the Muhammadiyyeh in the bazaars. He
has since been told by the Vali to keep quiet. Then came a delightful
little Tunis Jew, Monsieur M. Maurice Sidi who is forming the school
here of the Alliance Juive. And then M. Henriez [see also Henriet]
who I was very glad to see. After lunch Mr Wigram and I went to look
for Syriac inscrips. in 2 churches quite near the consulate but found
nothing older than 200 years, the fact being that the Chaldaeans have
probably destroyed or mutilated anything to the period before the
union with Rome. We then spent a dull hour with Nimrud Rassam and
came back to tea after which we saw the church in Mr Y.'s back yard.
M. Sidi has really a very remarkable record. He came here 2 years
ago knowing not a work of Arabic, took a house boldly in the middle
of the Moslem quarter and set to work on the Jew community (about
2000) who are the most backward, poverty stricken and ignorant in
Mosul [Mawsil, Al]. The school is now flourishing in spite of all the
opposition which was offered by the T. Govt.

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