A Call for Independence from Tripoli and Benghazi, 1917

I recently stumbled upon an extremely interesting pamphlet from 1917 entitled “Aspirations and National Ideals of the Population of Tripoli of Africa and Benghazi” (“Aspirations et idéal national de la population de Tripoli d’Afrique et de Benghazie”). Written by Youssouf Chetvan and Mouhammed Salih Chérif, it was published in French, in Stockholm, Sweden. It is the earliest text I know of that was written by Libyans calling for independence in a European venue. More generally, the text connects the aspirations of people in Tripoli and Benghazi with the struggle of colonized Muslims the world over, framing itself as an “appeal in the name of the oppressed Muslims populations”. I wonder how widely it circulated…

I do not know anything about the authors, except that Youssouf Chetvan (يوسف بن شتوان؟) was likely a Benghazi notable, as that family has been prominent there for a long time. The other author, Mouhammed Salih Chérif (محمد صالح الشريف؟), credited as “one of the Senussi sheikhs”, could plausibly have been a member of the Senussi family or a ranking member of the Senussi order.

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