Greek, Italian and other anarchists in Egypt

An account of the Greek, Italian and other anarchists and radicals active in Egypt during the last decades of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th century.

Submitted by Mark. on January 23, 2011

The first trade union in Egypt under the name Brotherhood of Workers founded in 1872 by Greek workers, most of which came from the island of Corfu. 

The first anarchist publication in Egypt appeared in Alexandria, probably in 1877 with the title «Il Lavoratore» («The Worker") in Italian language.

In September 1878, Errico Malatesta leaves Naples to avoid internment. He goes to Alexandria, Egypt where there is a thriving community of Italian workers. Meanwhile, after King Umberto I assumes the throne of Italy, the republican Passamante unsuccessfully attempts to assassinate the new king. There is widespread repression throughout Italy, in particular, against the anarchists. A meeting of Italian patriots organized in Egypt to decry the act of Passamante, and in response the Italian workers begin to organize a demonstration in front of the Italian Consulate to salute Passamante and oppose the Italian patriots. Before this can take place however, Malatesta is arrested along with Alvina and Parini. Malatesta and Alvina are both deported. Parini though a native of Leghorn, was a long time resident of Egypt and managed to stay there.

Another Italian anarchist, Amílcare Tsipriani is arrested and imprisoned in Italy in 1881 for the killing of an Italian in Alexandria in 1867. This incident was previously ruled self-defence but was invoked by the Italian authorities to put Cipriani out of commission when during his revolutionary campaigning in 1881. Cipriani's imprisonment becomes a celebrated case across the left. Cipriani remained for a quite long time in Greece.

On April 1, 1882, Egyptian charcoal workers began a strike (the first in the history of the country1 ) against Suez Canal at Port Said company. The strike had strong anarchist participation, perhaps incitement.

During the same year the President of the Italian Workers Association in Alexandria sent a letter to the new government under Prime Minister Sami Pasha al-Barudi supporting the insurrection of Ahmad Orabi and denouncing foreign intervention.

In 1884 an anarchist review appeared under the title«La Questione Sociale» (“The Social Question"), in Italian language. 

In 1890, the Patenta law is passed effectively ending the guild system in Egypt. The effect of this is a boost to labor activity in the country. 

On 18 March 1894, the Egyptian Newspaper, Al-Hilal, reports the arrest of a Greek worker in Alexandria for distributing what the police call "anarchist leaflets". The leaflets call for workers to celebrate the anniversary of the Paris Commune and ends "Long Live Anarchy." (or "Long live Communism" according to another translation.) On October 1 1894 Greek workers employed by the Suez Canal Company go on strike. Sakellaridis Yannakakis establishes a shoemakers union. Greek physician Dr. A. Skouphopoulos is another well known agitator in this region. Under his leadership the International Labor Union of the Isthmus of Suez founded in 1918 after also an initiative of Mutual Brotherhood "The Phoenix", which was founded in 1908. Also in 1923 in Alexandria Skouphopoulos’ work "Old and New Ideas” released.

On October 1, 1894, Greek workers employed in Suez Canal went on strike with anarchist incitement. During the same year, International Association of Cigarette Makers founded in Cairo by mainly the initiative of Italian anarchists and a few Greeks. This time it broke a general cigarette makers and tobacco workers strike. Also, the same year the Greek anarchist Sakellaridis Yannakakis actively participated in the foundation of a union of shoe makers. (He later allegedly involved in the Socialist Centre of Istanbul, Turkey).

In 1899 there was another tobacco workers' strike, in which some Greek anarchists such as Aristides Pappas, N. Chrysoudis or Zografos and S. Vlachopoulos, Egyptian Mohamed Sintky and Jewish anarchist Solomon Goldenburg played a leading role. Shortly after, the manufacturers managed oust Pappas, Chrysoudis and Vlachopoulos from the scene and formed a bosses association with some Greek cigarette makers as members. But already among the workers a group of Greek anarchists and revolutionaries, such as the Vourtzonis brothers, Nick Giannis and Yiannis Mavros, was fairly active.

In early 1900, the worker K. Asteriadis, published in Cairo a pamphlet entitled "Capital-Work or Domination-Money”, adopting a kind of anarcho-syndicalist views. The same year Italian workers struck while working on Aswan Dam. Tobacco and cigarette workers called for a general strike.

In 1900, the libertarian Tucker Publications in New York, publishes a pamphlet on ancient Egypt by Paul Pfitzner called Five Thousand Years Ago.

Luigi Galleani, escapes imprisonment on the island of Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily, in 1900, and flees to Egypt. He stays among Italian comrades for a year until threatened with extradition, whereupon he flees to London, at the age of 40. Galleani's journal Cronaca Sovversiva (founded June 6, 1903 in Vermont), is widely read by Italian anarchists in many countries including those in North Africa.

In 1903, the Union of Employees of International Trade Firms is formed. 

Shortly before the then known anarchists Dimitris Karampilias and Panos Makhairas arrive in Egypt from Greece (1901-1902), another anarchist from Athens Nickos Doumas, former member of the Central Association of Kallergis’ Socialists and the Socialist League “World” in Athens, had settled in Cairo. In particular, under the latter's initiative, in 1907 an anarcho-syndicalist newspaper appeared with the title "Worker", circulated in Alexandria and Cairo. In this newspaper also participated doctor G. Saraphides, Zacharias Hatzopoulos (1880-1935, brother of familiar Greek socialist Costas and anarchist Dimitris Hatzopoulos, who in 1913 published in Alexandria a booklet entitled "Joy and Hedonism in the Revolution"), George Telemitis, Stavros Kouchtsoglous (who worked at a cigarette factory at Tsanakli), Iosif Chionis and K. Asteriadis.

Dimitris Karampilias born in the village of Mintilogli Achaias (outside of Patras) in 1872. After the dissolution of anarchist movement in Patras, he settled in Athens with Yiannis Magkanaras and both participated in the anarchist activities there. In 1901, he migrated in Alexandria, Egypt, where worked as a cigarette-maker and participated in the local working class and anarchist movement, collaborating with other Greek anarchists who had been living there, but also with Italians. After 2 or 3 years maybe he left Egypt for France, where he worked as a tailor and participated in the French anarchosyndicalist circles."

Simultaneously, N. Doumas was one of the main founders of the Socialist Center of Cairo. In 1908, the "Worker" stopped its circulation, but the same year G. Saraphides published another newspaper called "The News" (which was socialist literary-content), with which most of the participants in "Worker" group collaborated. 

Greek anarchists, Iosif Chionis and Gerasimos Louzis, along with Italian anarcho-syndicalists Vozai, Loggi and Pitzoriti, contributed to the establishment of the International Association of Printers, which had a Greek section - with Iosif Chionis as secretary - and an Italian section. 

During 1907-1908 and until 1913, Italian and Greek anarcho-syndicalist had influenced almost all the printers in Egypt. They also published «Bulletino Typografico» (in Italian) and their protests and initiatives led printers to the conquest of eight hours day, whereas before they worked 12-14 hours. «Bulletino Typografico» played an important role in the development of the trade union movement in Egypt.

In 1907, foreign workers in Alexandria and Cairo, among them Greeks, organised demonstrations and other actions against the planned deportation of some Russian refugees who had fled to Egypt to escape the wave of repression after the failed Revolution of 1905 in Russia.

In 1908, The Cairo Tramworkers Union is formed.

Between 1909-1911, two pages were written and printed in Greek, by Chionis, Louzis and Loukas Christophides. At the same time, articles in Greek, written by Stavros Kouchtsoglous, George Vrisimitzakis and someone else with the pseudonym Spartacus, published in the Italian anarchist newspaper «Idea» circulated in Cairo. In this newspaper published also articles of the Spanish anarchist and editor of the anarchist newspaper «Tierra y Libertad» («Land and Freedom") Jose Estivalis (an article of which published in the socialist newspaper “Koinonismos" in Athens during the same period). Jose Estivalis later became predominantly known as an anarchist filmmaker with the name Armand Guerra.

In 1909, Greek anarchist George Telemitis (for whom nothing else available until today, and perhaps the name is a pseudonym), wrote and released a pamphlet with the title “Kato ta Eidola“ (“Down with the Idols”) on the occasion of the execution of the Spanish anarchist teacher Francisco Ferrer y Guardia, the same year in Spain. This pamphlet was circulated widely in Greece by anarchists and socialists.

In 1911, Egyptian State launched a series of prosecutions against the anarchists and the Italian anarcho-syndicalists, Vozai, Loggi and Pitzoriti and some other Italians were deported. But the Greeks as Stavros Kouchtsoglous and Nickos Doumas intensively continued their actions. Kouchtsoglous published in 1912 in Cairo a pamphlet with the title “Kato I Maska” (“Down with the Mask”) and Doumas worked with other Italian militants such as Antonio and Tzampio. However a new wave of persecution came, by which Italians hunted mercilessly and N. Doumas was forced to leave Egypt. He settled in Athens in late 1912 and in 1913 was one of the pioneers of the founding of the Footwear Workers' Association, after finding work as a shoemaker and actively participated in the working class movement, although some historians wrote that he progressively became a marxist.

Historian and academic Panagiotis Noutsos writes that from 1915 onwards Nickos Doumas turned to reformist socialism, associated with social-democrat Plato Drakoulis and became also a member of the then Greek Socialist Party (SEKE). Marxist historian Yiannis Kordatos also wrote that both sons of Nickos Doumas, George and Antonis, joined as well reformist socialists confirming Noutsos’ allegations. However, George Doumas participated in the left wing which left or expelled from SEKE and became Communist Union. 

Also, during his anarcho-syndicalist period in Egypt, Nickos Doumas wrote and published some books and pamphlets and corresponded with various socialist newspapers in Greece, amongst them the newspaper “O Ergatis” ("The Worker") from the city of Volos (in Thessaly, central Greece). Basically, he was a correspondent of this newspaper in Egypt, in which signed under the pseudonym "Worker"). 

Other Greek anarchists in Egypt were also authors of books and/or pamphlets, such as G. Saraphidis or someone named G. Drakopoulos who wrote and published “H Ataxiki Epanastasis” ("The Classless Revolution”), although it is unknown if it was a really anarchist or a generally radical work. 

At the same time another Greek newspaper of Egypt, “Sosialistiki” (“Socialist"), published translations of works of Mikhail Bakunin and other anarchists thinkers.

Generally, apart from union and strike activism and anarchist propaganda, several Greek anarchists and libertarians in Egypt dealt with both theoretical translations of anarchism, such as M. Bakunin, and different types of literature. In 1904 the magazine “Nea Zoi” ("New Life") started, in 1911 came another entitled “Grammata” ("Letters") and in 1916 "Phoenix" and "Propylaea, while most anarchist and libertarian intellectuals participated also in the scattered groups of demoticists which were active during this time in Egypt.

In April 1919, marxist George Skliros (Constantinides) - author of “To Koinoniko Mas Zitima” ("Our Social Question") – which said laid the foundations of the so-called scientific socialism in Greece - one of the pioneers of the movement of demoticism – at a writers event in Cairo, announced it had already started writing a study on the work of P. Kropotkin, which, as far as we know, he never completed. Between June and December 1917, G. Constantinides gave lectures on Leo Tolstoy, in Peoples’ Library in Alexandria organised by the magazine “Grammata”. We must mention here that “Grammata” stopped publication and re-published in July 1920, under the directorship of Stephanos Pargas and M. Peridis as editor, but it is not considered as a continuation of the publication of the first period. Among the collaborators of “Grammata” was also the Italian anarchist Luigi Fabbri, whose extensive article "The movement of ideas in Italy” published in translation in volume 2 (September-October 1920) on page 96.

In September 1919, following a summer of strikes, the Italian workers, Max di Collalto (publisher of Roma and member of the Societe Internationale des Employes du Caire) and Guiseppe Pizzuto, a revolutionary socialist of the printers union, are both deported.

Around 1920, Salama Musa, Muhammad 'Abdullah al-'Inani and Husni al-Urabi form the Socialist Party, in opposition to the Wafd nationalist Party. In 1924, Husni al-Urabi, Antun Marun and Joseph Rosenthal (a Jewish Italian who settled Egypt in 1899) form the Egyptian Communist Party in 1924.

In 1924, The Wafd Party forms the General Federation of Workers Unions in the Nile Valley to prevent the Communists from doing so.

Lastly, we must say a few things about George Vrisimitzakis. George Vrisimitzakis was Cretan origin but was born in Alexandria in 1890. Since his young age he was a little untamed and sinewy. He studied French Literature and Science in Paris. He didn’t specialised in something specific subject and never sought to acquire academic qualifications. He knew fluent French, Italian and Arabic, and was self-taught in Greek. From summer 1912 until spring of 1913 he stayed at Viareggio, Italy, where associated with a local anarchist circle. In summer of 1915, lived in Paris. In 1918-1919 he was in Athens and worked with the magazine "Altar". In 1921 he returned to Alexandria, but in 1926 moved back to France where he stayed until the end of his life on December 19, 1947. George Vrisimitzakis, devoted himself to literary studies, wrote a critique in the work of poet Constantine Cavafy, translated various works including classics of anarchism and he was one of the publishers of the magazine “Grammata” (in the first period). He also wrote dozens of books, booklets and articles on various social issues most of which published in “Grammata” and republished in other magazines and newspapers. Until 1931, many magazines and newspapers in Greece and Egypt used his translations, introductions and notes . During the last years of his life published articles in French literary journals, many of whom signed with the pseudonym Philetas. 


Taken from

  • 1 libcom note: Actually, this is not correct. There were recorded strikes in Egypt in 1155 BC:



13 years 6 months ago

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Submitted by Mark. on January 23, 2011


As in South Africa, North African port cities on the Mediterranean played a major role in the spread of anarchist ideas as well. The Egyptian anarchist movement is a good example of this trend, for here anarchism was almost entirely an immigrant phenomenon. As early as 1877, the Egyptian anarchist movement began to put out the Italian language anarchist journal II Lavoratore, which was followed shortly by La Questione Sociale. Its primary audience was Egypt’s thriving Italian immigrant community concentrated primarily in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. As Alexandria was a port city, it was quite diverse and would act as a reservoir not only for anarchist activity but for anarchist exiles from around the Mediterranean region as well. In the late 19th Century Malatesta sought refuge here after the attempted assassination of King Umberto I, as did Luigi Galleani in the year 1900. Soon, the anarchist ideas of the Italian community would spread to Greek immigrant workers, who would then go on to organize an anarchist-oriented labor union for shoemakers in Alexandria. However, there is little evidence that anarchist ideas spread in any significant way out of the immigrant communities and into the indigenous Egyptian communities themselves (Stiobhard).

Tunisia and Algeria were the two other countries where anarchism gained a foothold. The port city of Tunis in northern Tunisia featured an anarchist movement amongst Italian immigrants, and as in Egypt, they engaged in publishing several journals including L’Operaio and La Protesta Umana. The latter was published by the well-known pamphleteer Luigi Fabbri, who was living in Tunis at the time. In addition, the port city of Algiers in northern Algeria was a major repository for anarchist activity featuring several anarchist newspapers including L’Action Revolutionnaire, Le Tocsin, Le Libertaire, and La Marmite Sociale. Though there is little information available about the interim period, it well documented that after the failure of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, many anarchists relocated to Algeria around the port city of Oran (Stiobhard).


8 years 7 months ago

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Submitted by Mark. on November 29, 2015

I haven't read this book but it looks like it deals with anarchists in Egypt in this period in more depth:

The Eastern Mediterranean And The Making Of Global Radicalism, 1860-1914

In this groundbreaking book, Ilham Khuri-Makdisi establishes the existence of a special radical trajectory spanning four continents and linking Beirut, Cairo, and Alexandria between 1860 and 1914. She shows that socialist and anarchist ideas were regularly discussed, disseminated, and reworked among intellectuals, workers, dramatists, Egyptians, Ottoman Syrians, ethnic Italians, Greeks, and many others in these cities. In situating the Middle East within the context of world history, Khuri-Makdisi challenges nationalist and elite narratives of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern history as well as Eurocentric ideas about global radical movements. The book demonstrates that these radical trajectories played a fundamental role in shaping societies throughout the world and offers a powerful rethinking of Ottoman intellectual and social history.

Edit: here's a link that works


12 years 6 months ago

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Submitted by Mark. on January 28, 2012

Anarchists in Education: The Free Popular University in Egypt (1901)

A journal article by Anthony Gorman on the Free Popular University (Università Popolare Libera) in Egypt, which was declared officially open in Alexandria on the evening of Sunday, 26 May 1901. Inspired by Élisée Reclus and organised mostly by Italian anarchists, this radical initiative sought to 'promote the diffusion of scientific culture and literature among the popular classes’ on the basis of secularism, internationalism and anti-authoritarianism.

Anthony Gorman

The UPL was the most radical initiative in education in Egypt before the First World War and part of a broader pattern of anarchist activity that would play a significant role in the development of the labour movement, grassroots political activism and progressive thought in the early years of the twentieth century. Founded on a platform of resolute independence, it aimed to break free from national and religious frames of reference by offering a programme of free, modern and accessible education for all, and particularly ordinary people. Although it drew intellectual and political inspiration from Europe, the UPL in Egypt had its own special character, formed from revolutionary intent and adapted to the reality of a diverse religious, ethnic and linguistic society.


10 years 11 months ago

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Submitted by Mark. on August 13, 2013

An article by Ilham Makdisi (pdf):

Theater and radical politics in Beirut, Cairo, and Alexandria: 1860-1914

A Curious Affair: The Ferrer Play of 1909

In the last days of October 1909, a play celebrating the life and work of Francisco Ferrer was performed in Beirut. Ferrer, a Spanish social and political activist whose ideas combined elements of anarchism and socialism, had been executed three days before. Ferrer was a pedagogue who had created a modern curriculum and established modern schools in Barcelona based on the principle of “class harmony,” a project very similar to the ideas behind the Université Populaire that appeared in France at the same time. Ferrer’s ideas enjoyed tremendous popularity throughout the world both because of his pedagogy as well as his ideology, which combined Freemasonry, free thinking, a strong class consciousness, anarchism, and anticlericalism. He became an icon of the world’s leftist movements in 1909, when he was falsely accused by the Spanish Church and condemned to death because of his alleged involvement in an anarchist “terrorist” attack. His trial and condemnation triggered demonstrations and protests throughout the world, from Italy to Mexico.

In Beirut, a play about Ferrer was improvised on the spot. Written in four hours by Daud Muja‘is and Emile Khuri, the script was promptly memorized by the actors. Remarkably, the cast consisted of sixty people, most of whom must have been nonprofessional actors recruited locally.
The performance of the Ferrer play in Beirut was not an isolated expression of support for leftist ideals. Indeed, there existed an entire network of radical leftist intellectuals in Syria active in Beirut and Mount Lebanon in the first years of the 20th century. By the time of the Ferrer play in 1909, members of this network actively sought to eliminate poverty, promoted ideas of social justice, denounced the exploitation of workers on moral and economic grounds, were fiercely anticlerical, identified with international leftist icons (or at least European ones), and referred to themselves and were referred to as radicals or socialists. Members of this network were involved with the periodicals al-Nur (Alexandria, 1904–1908) and al-Hurriyya (Beirut, 1909–1910?). They promoted and diffused radical ideas through newspapers, as well as through a wider social network that connected them to the Nahda core. This circle was able to formulate ideas and to disseminate and apply them through free reading rooms, schools for workers, and industrial and agricultural exhibitions. More important, members of this circle were profoundly convinced of the primacy of the theater in promoting social justice by denouncing exploitation and educating their audiences about socialism.

In another study, I explored the emergence of leftist networks and the formulation and dissemination of leftist ideas in the three cities under study; here I explain the emergence of the theater as a central organ in the formulation and dissemination of radical leftist ideas and attempt to answer the following questions prompted by the Ferrer episode: why did supporters of a Spanish anarchist in Beirut choose the theater as their medium to express their ideological allegiances? Why was a mere theatrical performance taken so seriously, both by its proponents and its adversaries? More generally, what was the nature of the relationship between social and political contestation and the theater, and how did this relationship evolve between the years 1860 and 1914 in Beirut, Cairo, and Alexandria? What sort of relationship existed between the stage and radical leftist sympathisers?...


10 years 11 months ago

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Submitted by Mark. on August 26, 2013

An Italian anarchist journal, Il Lavoratore (The Labourer), began printing in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1877, and Alexandrian anarchists were represented at the 1877 Verviers Congress of the Saint- Imier International. Malatesta himself fled to Alexandria in September 1878, but was deported when Italian workers organised a demonstration outside the Italian consulate to applaud an assassination attempt against Italian King Umberto I by a republican. He represented an ‘Egyptian Federation’ at the 1881 International Social Revolutionary Congress of the anarchists, with a mandate from ‘bodies from Constantinople and Alexandria.’ Malatesta returned to Egypt in 1882, – the year the country was invaded by the British – where he appears to have been involved in the ‘Pasha revolt’ that broke out that year, and which was suppressed by British forces. In 1884, the paper La Question Sociale (The Social Question) appeared in Egypt. In 1877, the journal L’Operaia (The Worker), appeared in Tunis, followed in 1881 by the Italian anarchist journal Imola (Inflame), published by Andrea Costa, and another, La Protesta Humana (Human Protest) was subsequently published in the city before relocating to Italy in 1896.

The Egyptian newspaper al-Hilal (The Crescent) reported on 18 March 1894 that a Greek worker was arrested in Alexandria for distributing ‘anarchist leaflets’ calling on workers to celebrate the anniversary of the 1871 Paris Commune. In 1901, an anarchist paper entitled La Tribune Libre (The Free Tribune) was also being published in Alexandria. In Alexandria, an Italian-language anarchist weekly, l’Operaio (The Worker) began publishing in 1902 and ran until the following year. In 1904, the Arabic-language radical journal al-Nur (The Light) was established in Alexandria by Daud Muja‘is, the Syrian-Lebanese editor of al-Hurriyya (Freedom) of Beirut (1909-1910?). According to Khuri-Makdisi, al-Nur had a correspondent in Cairo, was published until 1908, increasingly took an anarchist line and had subscribers among the Syrian-Lebanese Diaspora as far afield as Haiti and Brazil – one of the best examples of the extent of North African anarchist influence.

The Italian-language Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicles), published in Vermont, United States from 1903 onwards by Luigi Galleani, reached ‘far beyond the confines of the United States’ including North Africa and Egypt. Italian radicals played a key role in founding the labour movement in Egypt, forming a People’s Free University in Alexandria in 1901, and activists associated with the University and Le Tribune Libre appear to have been amongst those involved in founding ‘international’ unions in early 20th Century Egypt. Most notable was the International League of Cigarette Workers and Millers of Cairo in 1908, ‘open to workers of all nationalities, Egyptians as well as foreigners,’ and apparently including ‘production workers other than the skilled rollers.’ Other examples of integrated labour solidarity existed. A meeting in 1901 in support of striking garment workers (including Egyptians) in a Cairo café included a speech by the president of the cigarette rollers’ craft union, and a reading of the workers’ demands in Arabic as well as Greek, Italian, Hebrew and German. This was followed by a march of 3,000 chanting workers through Cairo. What is interesting is that European cigarette workers living in Egypt were radicalised by the likes of the Egyptian syndicalists and returned to Europe to spread anarchist ideas there. Two notable examples of this are the anarcho-syndicalist Konstantinos “Kostas” Speras (1893-1943) and the anarchist-communist Stavros Kouchtsoglous (1878- 1949). Both were radicalised in Egypt and returned to Greece to become the leading lights in the revolutionary trade union movement there. Speras was fluent in Arabic and Kouchtsoglous was involved in numerous worker demonstrations in Alexandria and Istanbul. They both helped establish anarcho-syndicalist trade unions in Greece including the syndicalist minority within the General Workers’ Confederation of Greece (GSEE) in 1918.

Although these cases are not necessarily representative, they do indicate that anarchists were involved in founding racially integrated unions in colonial Egypt. The evidence for anarchist activity for subsequent years is less clear. Bearing in mind the possible mistranslation of ‘syndicalist,’ in academic studies, and the misapplication of the term ‘anarchist’ in official records, it is possible to find mentions of subsequent activity. Investigations into the assassination of the Egyptian Prime Minister, Butrus Ghali in February 1910, for example, revealed the existence of a number of secret societies, including one splinter group, founded in 1908, based on both Sufism – a mystical form of Islam – and ‘Syndicalism’. In 1919, Viscount Allenby of the British administration in Egypt noted in his records that ‘while the nationalist movement had lost some of its strength the syndicalist movement was growing, with secret support from Italian journalists. A curiosity in this period was the production in 1921 of a French-Egyptian silent film called Aziz Bey, l’Anarchiste, the existence of which is noted in the list of anarchist- themed films compiled in 2004 by the International Centre for Research into Anarchism (CIRA) in Switzerland...


8 years 7 months ago

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Submitted by Mark. on November 29, 2015

The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Radicalism 1860-1914

A lecture by Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, Northeastern University

In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, a wide variety of radical leftist ideas began circulating among segments of the populations of Eastern Mediterranean cities, especially in Beirut, Cairo and Alexandria, then among the most culturally and politically important cities of the Arab Ottoman world. These ideas, which were selective adaptations of socialist and anarchist principles, included specific calls for social justice, workers’ rights, mass secular education, and anticlericalism, and more broadly a general challenge to the existing social and political order at home and abroad. Those who embraced such ideas expressed them in articles, pamphlets, plays, and popular poetry (in Arabic, but also in Italian, Ottoman Turkish and Greek), in literary salons, and theatres, and during strikes and demonstrations, disseminating radical thought through educational, cultural, and popular institutions. Radicals formed networks that were connected, informationally, politically, and organizationally, to international and internationalist movements and organizations that sought to promote leftist ideas and implement radical projects in various corners of the world. Beyond these formal and official connections lay an entire worldview and way of being-in-the-world, a global radical moment that radical thinkers and activists in the Eastern Mediterranean partook in and helped shape.

Ilham Khuri-Makdisi teaches courses in Middle Eastern history, World history and urban history. She is particularly interested in Mediterranean cities in the late 19th, early 20th centuries and the movements of people and ideas. Her current research focuses on the articulation and dissemination of radical ideas such as socialism and anarchism, in eastern Mediterranean cities. Specifically, she analyzes the establishment of migrant networks of intellectuals, dramatists and workers, and their roles in the spread of radical ideas in and between Beirut, Cairo, Alexandria. She argues that the presence and activities of such (nominally 'peripheral') radical networks were central to the making of a globalized world and to the formulation of alternative visions of radicalism.

Listen to the podcast:


8 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by Mark. on May 28, 2016

What? Anarchists in Egypt! - in the bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library, May 2016, pages 9-11

Over the past century and a half of the Italian language anarchist movement, its militants and groups migrated to all five continents. From the mid-19th to the start of the 20th century, it had a significant presence in Cairo and in Alexandria in Egypt.

Around the middle of the 19th century, the flow of immigrant male and female European workers into the countries of the Maghreb and the Ottoman Empire assisted the spread of internationalism and anti-authoritarian socialism, alongside other political persuasions. Yet for a variety of reasons traceable to topics like “the decolonization of anarchism” or Orientalism, as well as the hegemony exercised by certain schools of historiography, their history has been of small concern to historians and activists and has all but slipped into oblivion, as witness the case of Egypt, of which more below...


2 years 4 months ago

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Submitted by Alexandrian on March 13, 2022

Cola Pernisca, most probably of Italian origin, who did write for Les Temps Noveuaux earlier, worked in Alexandria in 1911. In two letters to Vurban Kilfarski, leading Bulgarian anarchist, he explained his and his fellows’ engagements in propaganda of the anarchist ideas. “With a small number of comrades and friends, we initiated the publication of “Risorgete”, an atheist propaganda journal which lives on to the present day and of which we print 2000 copies each week distributed free of charge. We had also published for some time a newspaper in Greek Ο ΕΡΓΑΤΗΣ (The Worker) which died after 7 issues. We had published jubilee one Κάτω τα Είδωλα (Down the idols). Also, our Cairo comrades started publishing L ‘IDEA (The Idea), written in French, Italian and Greek languages.” Pernisca’s letters to his Bulgarian comrade Kilifarski had a goal to bring also Bulgarian anarchist literature to be distributed among the Bulgarian diaspora in Alexandria.