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MERINIDS (Banu-Marin ), Berber dynasty ruling over Morocco and parts of Algeria from the mid-13th century to 1472. Their capital and center of operations was the city of *Fez. From the 1390s, the Jewish population under the dynasty increased significantly as a result of the flow of Jewish refugees from areas re-conquered by the Christians in Spain from the Muslims. Important Jewish communities expanded in Fez and Taza. The King Abd al-Haqq (murdered by Muslim fanatics in 1465) appointed Harun, a Jewish physician, as vizier (minister). Members of the Jewish elite served as vital trade and diplomatic intermediaries between the Merinid court and Portugal, then a key military and commercial power with strategic interests inside Morocco. Although several Merinid kings manifested compassion and even generosity toward the Jews, the same was not true of all of them, and it most certainly was not the case with ordinary Muslims, who resented the growing Jewish political and economic influence. Jews were periodically harassed and beaten by Muslims and were prohibited from residing anywhere near Muslim holy sites.

add. bibliography:

H.Z. Hirschberg, A History of the Jews in North Africa, i (1974); C.-A. Julien, History of North Africa: From the Arab Conquest to 1830, ed. and rev. by R. Le Tourneau (1970); N.A. Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands (1979).

[Michael M. Laskier (2nd ed.)]