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Italian Anarchists in Alexandria, Egypt - need help

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Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
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Jul 30 2007 11:03
Italian Anarchists in Alexandria, Egypt - need help

I've been trying hard to find out about anarchist history in Egypt (and the Arab world), of which there is very little from what I can tell (though I hope I've just been a horrible researcher). Socialists and communists I know here simply told me "we don't have that kind of activism". However, this one Egyptian syndicalist I met mentioned that the only bit of anarchist history known to him was that in the early 20th C there were a bunch of Italian anarchist living (in exile I believe) in Alexandria. Unfortunately he didn't tell me much more at the time since we were busy with more present pressing issues, and since then I've lost his contact details.

So, does anyone know anything about this? Whether they were just hiding or actively involved in politics in Egypt? In fact, any info on anarchism in the Arab world would be much appreciated. E.g. were there any Moroccans that volunteered for the republic as opposed to being drafted to fight for Franco? What I am specifically interested in is how, if at all, anarchist beliefs and practices have been adapted to arab social and political thought as well as Islam, or whether anarchism has been a pure ideological import.

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altemark
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Jul 30 2007 19:21

Jason Adams wrote a piece containing some interesting harder to get information about movements in non-western countries .. for example egypt in the chapter "African Anarchisms: Igbo, Egypt, Lybia, Nigeria and South Africa"

It is available here
http://www.geocities.com/ringfingers/nonwesternweb.html

If i remember correctly the author is/was affiliated with black bridge international?

alf shawyer col...
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Jul 30 2007 19:46

do you know of Anarchism & Revolutionary Syndicalism in Africa?

On their site they have this link to Egypt

http://www.geocities.com/sameh562001/

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Khawaga
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Jul 30 2007 20:35

Cheers guys, did not know of these sources.

Mark.
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Jul 30 2007 20:44

I've read that there were Greek anarchists in Alexandria in the late 19th and early 20th century, as there were in Turkey where I think the organised working class was mainly Greek speaking rather than Turkish speaking before the exchange of populations. I'm not sure where you'd find out more about this.

If you can read any Spanish there are a couple of threads about Islam and anarchism on alasbarricadas, the Spanish equivalent of libcom. I've seen leaflets produced by the CGT in Arabic aimed at the immigrants from North Africa and I think they have contacts in Morocco.

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Jul 30 2007 20:59

Which Alexander? The one now in Turkey, or Egypt? I think they probably would have spoken Arabic, or Ottoman in both of them. Most of the 'Greeks' expelled in the populaion exchange/ethnic cleansing' were Turkish speaking Christians. Ottoman is a nightmare. Very few people speak it today.

If you want to get in contact with AKI (who have written stuff about the origins of Turkish anarchism), Khawaga. PM me.

Also, if you are interested in history of the communist left in Turkey in the 1920s, our work on it maybe of interest.

Devrim

Mark.
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Jul 30 2007 21:39

I was referring to Alexandria in Egypt. I think the politics may have been brought over by Greeks who left Turkey to work in Egypt. The definition of 'Greeks' and 'Turks' in the population exchange gets confused between religion and language but the majority who ended up in Greece were Greek speaking. The Turkish speaking Christians came mainly from villages in Cappodocia and the interior of Anatolia. The 'Greeks' in cities like Istanbul and Izmir where there was some left wing politics would have mostly spoken Greek as their first language.

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Jul 30 2007 21:43

Yes, I think in that Alex, there would have been Greek spoken. You are also right about Greek speakers in Izmir, and Istanbul. I think that those from the villages were probably a majority of the exchange/cleansing though.
Devrim

Mark.
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Jul 30 2007 22:18

Most of the people in the population exchange were from villages rather than cities, but these were mainly Greek speaking villages near the Aegean or Black Sea coasts. There are still villages in northern Greece which started as refugee settlements where older people speak a Pondic dialect from the area around Trabzon which is quite different to standard Greek. When I lived in Greece there was still a Pondic nationalist group calling for an independent Greek state on the Black Sea. There were also some villages where older people spoke Turkish rather than Greek but this is probably dying out by now.

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Jul 31 2007 08:33

Thanks JH. It makes a lot of sense that there were Greek anarchists in Alexandria, after all there is a somewhat significant Greek community still living there. I wonder if they linked up with the Italians..? Unfortunately I don't speak spanish, but thanks for letting me know. I might get some of it translated by some friends.

Devrim, I am currently just interested in Arab anarchism, but I'll keep it in mind anyway. Studying the Arab world I've found that it is impossible to not study Turkey/Ottoman Empire at some time.

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Jul 31 2007 08:40

JH, I split our talk about population exchange to here:
http://libcom.org/forums/history/greek-turkish-population-exchange31072007
as it was a bit off topic.
Devrim

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Jul 31 2007 08:46
Quote:
do you know of Anarchism & Revolutionary Syndicalism in Africa?

On their site they have this link to Egypt

http://www.geocities.com/sameh562001/

Just researched this site a bit, and unfortunately it's just a one man ranting operation and no group. Apparently he belonged to some stalinist organization in the 70s and 80s and is not involved in any practical political activity. But his site was one of the first lefty sites in Arabic before the advent of blogs and all that.

alf shawyer col...
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Jul 31 2007 08:54
Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
do you know of Anarchism & Revolutionary Syndicalism in Africa?

On their site they have this link to Egypt

http://www.geocities.com/sameh562001/

Just researched this site a bit, and unfortunately it's just a one man ranting operation and no group. Apparently he belonged to some stalinist organization in the 70s and 80s and is not involved in any practical political activity. But his site was one of the first lefty sites in Arabic before the advent of blogs and all that.

sorry about that it was the only link that i could find. what about the Anarchism & Revolutionary Syndicalism in Africa site any good?

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Jul 31 2007 09:16

Don't feel sorry about that ASCollective, it's difficult to tell from the website alone - I had to ask around about it.

Know very little about the A&RS in Africa site as I know very little about Africa in general, well sub-saharan Africa that is. But I've asked a few folks i know in South Africa if they know anything about them, as soon as they give me their opinion I'll let you know.

This btw, is probably the best online summary of anarchism in Egypt, but unfortunately it does not contain a lot of info and what I am specifically interested in is Arab anarchists and anarchism after de-colonization and more current times.

Quote:
* In 1877, an anarchist journal Il Lavoratore appears in Alexandria, in the 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. Pirini though a native of Leghorn, was a long time resident of Egypt and managed to stay there.

* Amilcare Cipriani, the italian anarchist, 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.
* On 1 April 1882, Egyptian coalheavers strike against the Suez Canal Company in Port Said.
* In 1882, 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 Italian language anarchist revue La Questione Sociale appears in Egypt.
* 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. Sakilarides Yanakakis establishes a shoemakers union. Dr. Skouphopoulos is another well known agitator in this region.
* In 1899, Italian workers strike while working on Aswan Dam. Tobacco and cigarette workers call a general strike that same year.
* 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.
* In 1907, foreign workers in Alexandria and Cairo, demonstrate against the extradition of Russian refugees living in Egypt. Russians fleeing the repression following the 1905 Revolution in Russia, had settled in Alexandria.
* In 1908, The Cairo Tramworkers Union is formed.
* In September 1919, following a summer of strikes, the Italian workers, Max di Collalto (publisher of Roma and member of the Socite 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.

From here,

Edit: minor, for clarity

alf shawyer col...
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Jul 31 2007 09:31

thanks Khawaga had no idea really of this history.

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Steven.
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Jul 31 2007 09:47

Hi Khawaga, we'd love to have this kind of stuff in our library - if you had the time to post any of it while you research that'd be great. Otherwise if you post links like this then we'll try to add things in. Let me know.

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Jul 31 2007 10:02

Ok, no problem. Though, so far the only stuff I've found is bits and bobs here and there, not anything substantial. Is it ok to just publish summaries like that? (I am not clear on the publishing guidelines).

Battlescarred
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Jul 31 2007 12:19

"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 cigaret-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."
from anarchistnews.org

Battlescarred
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Jul 31 2007 12:23

"Syria/Lebanon’s anarchist history is slender, but a ground-breaking study by Ilham Khuri-Makdisi (12) shows that from about 1904, a group of Syrian/Lebanese radicals grouped around the figure of Daud Muja’is began disseminating socialist thought, and established night schools and reading rooms in Beirut and in Mount Lebanon (then a semi-autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire). This network interacted with other revolutionary networks in the region, notably the multi-ethnic network in Alexandria and Cairo that established the Free Popular University in Egypt in 1901, and the International League of Cigarette Workers and Millers of Cairo in 1908 (Egypt had been represented by Errico Malatesta in the Black International as far back as 1881 and by 1895, the first Arabic anarchist translations appeared).

The Muja’is network held what appears to be the Middle East’s first celebration of May Day near Beirut in 1907. After the Young Turk 'revolution' of 1908/9 overthrew Sultan Abdulhamid II, and the Turkish nationalists - who had initially been drawn to insurgent anarchism - showed their true colours, the Muja’is network and its papers al Nar of Beirut and al Hurriyya of Alexandria took a distinctly anarchist turn and in 1909 staged a wildly popular play about the anarchist educator Francisco Ferrer, murdered that year by the Spanish state.

However, the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and the rise of Arab nationalism after the 1918 collapse of the Ottoman Empire put paid to the Syrian/Lebanese anarchist movement - until, as far as is know, the founding of ACT after the end of the Civil War (details have been lost on the Palestinians who trained Argentine’s Resistencia Libertaria anarcho-syndicalist guerrilla force in the 1970s). This is history that the ACT, according to Saad, was unaware of and what this rootlessness means in a Middle Eastern country with far more liberal than libertarian socialist tradition. "

from Anarkismo

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Jul 31 2007 12:47
Khawaga wrote:
Ok, no problem. Though, so far the only stuff I've found is bits and bobs here and there, not anything substantial. Is it ok to just publish summaries like that? (I am not clear on the publishing guidelines).

Yeah stuff like that is ok. For the library basically anything goes, as long as it has a short intro (2 lines or less, ideally) explaining what the article is about, and a (possibly only vaguely related) picture. we can add pics though, and help write intros after stuff is submitted.

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Jul 31 2007 12:54

Cheers, Battlescarred. Had seen the first one, but I don't know how I've missed that second one. I though I'd searched pretty well on anarkismo.

Very very interesting.

Battlescarred
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Jul 31 2007 12:59

There is an article by Anthony Gorman on the Free Popular University . Google it.

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Jul 31 2007 13:05

I did, but the pdf would not open. Do you have it? Could you send it to me if I PM you my e-mail?

edit: it's crippled with some content protection, which is why it won't show.

edit: got it through someone with university library access. if anyone's interested in getting this article please PM me.

Battlescarred
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Jul 31 2007 13:53

I'd like it

Battlescarred
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Aug 1 2007 12:09

You should also look at the Armand Guerra bio here on libcom which refers to Guerra's activities in Egypt

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Khawaga
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Aug 1 2007 13:08

Anyone have access to Leonardo Bettini's, Bibliografia dell’anarchismo Vol. 2 and wouldn't mind scanning and sending pages 281-8 to me? If so I will get it translated and share it/ put it up here on libcom.

Apparently those pages comprise the best text on anarchism in Egypt, or so the author of the Anarchists in Education article says in a footnote.

rebelworker
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Aug 1 2007 16:52

I know there is a fairly new anarchist library in Morocco, one comrade from nefac has visited a few times, ill ask her for details...

Also the Comrades in Quebec city have a film and some info on Anarchists in Algeria during the independace struggle. ill try and find out more about that too.

rebelworker
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Aug 1 2007 16:55

PS might also be worth your while to get a hold of the book, African Anarchism. Its written by two comrades form the Awareness League in Nigeria, which unfortunatly although still rumored to be active in the North of the Country, is very hard to get a hold of...

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Khawaga
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Aug 1 2007 19:12

Cheers, rebelworker. I have a good friend working in Morocco now that could copy for me, so if you could dig up an address or something that would be great.

amr (not verified)
Mar 4 2008 20:58
Khawaga wrote:
Just researched this site a bit, and unfortunately it's just a one man ranting operation and no group. Apparently he belonged to some stalinist organization in the 70s and 80s and is not involved in any practical political activity. But his site was one of the first lefty sites in Arabic before the advent of blogs and all that.

Saeed Salama started getting organised now, writing in alBosla, a Democratic Left magazine. The group has been trying to start a reformist left-leaning party in Egypt for a while now.