Emancipation of Christian and Israeli Peoples of the Middle East Medal
Figure 44. Emancipation of Christian and Israeli Peoples of the Middle East Medal

Emile Rogat, Ottoman Empire, Turkey, 1850, Bronze struck medal, 61 mm. (Image courtesy of Tradart)

Figure 44 shows another medal of toleration, this one related to the emancipation of Jews and Christens by a country dominated by Muslims. It was issued in 1850 on the occasion of reforms for the equality of rights of Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire. The obverse shows British ambassador Stratford de Redcliffe holding a staff with Abdülmecid I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. On the staff are flags with symbols of the three religious communities: the Muslim Crescent, Christian Cross and the Hebrew Tablets of the Law. In the background, the sun rises over the city of Istanbul. In front of the Sultan are representatives of the Jewish, Christian Orthodox and Muslim communities. The inscription reads: “For All, Equal rights.” On the reverse is an inscription in French translated as: AUniversal Association for the Emancipation of Christians and Israeli Peoples of the Middle East"; in the center is written: “And Conservation of the Ottoman Empire in the Conditions: 1º of Civil Equality and Policy; 2ºof Complete Religious Freedom; 3ºof the Separation of the Spiritual and Temporal; 4? of the Right of Ownership Granted to Foreigners.”

One might speculate that this formal act of toleration toward Jews and Christians by Abdülmecid may have been influenced by the fact that his mother Bezmiâlem was believed to be a Jewess (or some say a Christian), who converted to Islam before marrying Sultan Mahmud II, although it must also be remembered that traditional Islam recognizes both Moses and Jesus as prophets, who preceded the Prophet Mohammad.

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