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Escaping Military Service

5 October 1850
Aleppo, Citadel
Wikimedia Commons

On October 5, 1850, the governor of Aleppo, present-day Syria, prescribed the recruitment of young men between 20 and 25 years for the Ottoman army. On the next evening, inhabitants of the city attacked the gendarmerie, shouting 'We won't join the soldiers, we won't pay the taxes'. The gendarmes and the governor fled to the citadel. The rioters regarded conscription as bid'a, a religiously reprehensible innovation. On later occasions, during the Ottoman-Russian war (1877-1878) for example, young men fled from forced conscription into army service by the governor of Damascus. In all of Syria, emigration, notably to South America, was a major way of escaping military service in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Read more? Abdallah Hanna, 'The first World War according to the Memories of 'Commoners' in the Bilad Al-Sham' in: The World in World Wars (Leiden 2010)