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Geographies of Contact

Caroline Lehni
Fanny Moghaddassi
Hélène Ibata
et al.

IV. Transposing Legal and Political Principles

The Murder of Bibi Asilah: A failed early mixed-court case in Qajar Iran

Willem Floor

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Discussion of judicial cases that came before the religious courts in Qajar Iran are rare;1 even rarer is the discussion of those cases where a foreign consul had legal standing in those courts, in fact, I do not know of any other in Iran than the one presented here. In this study I discuss a case of retribution for homicide or qisâs that was submitted to the religious court in Bushehr and had to be heard in the presence of the British consul, because the victim was a British pensioner. This case shows that when more than one judicial authority is involved, who apply different legal and social parameters, it constitutes a major obstacle for resolving the legal problems concerned, the more so when other than legal principles play a role such as when one side is perceived as being less than interested to prosecute the matter, an aspect ignored by Vanessa Martin who also analyzed this case.


There were no regular courts in nineteenth century Iran; in actual practice there was...


Willem Floor studied development economics and non-western sociology, as well as Persian, Arabic and Islamology from 1963 to 1967 at the University of Utrecht (the Netherlands). He received his doctoral degree from the University of Leiden in 1971. From 1983, Dr. Floor was employed by the World Bank as an energy specialist; however, after his retirement in 2002, he has dedicated his time to the study of the social and political history of Iran, and has published extensively throughout this time.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2017

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