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Iranians from Shiraz in Zanzibar

Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On January 12, 1964, the Zanzibar Revolution overthrew the Sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab-Omani government. An ethnically diverse Muslim state consisting of a number of islands off the east coast of Africa, Zanzibar had been granted independence by Britain in 1963. Thereafter a series of parliamentary elections resulted in the Arab minority retaining the hold on power it had inherited from Zanzibar's former existence as an overseas territory of the Sultanate of Oman.
Frustrated by under-representation in Parliament despite winning 54% of the vote in the July 1963 elections, the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) allied itself with the left-wing Umma Party, and early on the morning of 12 January 1964 mobilised around 600–800 revolutionaries. Having overrun the island state's police force and appropriated their weaponry, the insurgents proceeded to Zanzibar Town where they overthrew the Sultan and his government.
Reprisals against Arab and South Asian civilians on the island followed; the resulting death toll is disputed, with estimates ranging from several hundred to 20,000. Moderate ASP leader Obeid Karume became the new president and head of state, and positions of power were granted to Umma party members. In April the same year, the Afro-Shirazi Party joined Zanzibar with Tanganyika to form the federal republic of Tanzania. It is worth recalling that over a thousand years ago, Islam had been brought to east Africa by Iranians from Shiraz, whose descendents are still found in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and Kenya.

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