ⓘ Salah Farhat. A great Tunisian nationalist and one of the founders of Destour, created in 1920 after having campaigned in the Young Tunisian Movement, Salah Far ..

Salah Farhat

ⓘ Salah Farhat

A great Tunisian nationalist and one of the founders of Destour, created in 1920 after having campaigned in the Young Tunisian Movement, Salah Farhat was born on July 26, 1894 at the Palais de Kobbet Ennehas in Manouba, a suburb of Tunis. He comes from a rich Mameluk family, of Greek origin.

Enrolled high school Carnot in Tunis, he passed the French baccalaureate in 1914. At the same time, he took Arabic lessons at the University of The Zitouna. He obtained a law degree from the Faculty of Algiers in 1917.

He worked as an interpreter until his registration, delayed by the war, at the Bar of Tunis in 1919.

He specializes in Land Law to safeguard Tunisian agricultural property against colonization and in Criminal Law to energetically defend the great causes of nationalists.

In 1921, he was elected member of the Executive Office of Destour and of the Partys Legal Commission and campaigned for the benefit of the Turkish Red Crescent by raising funds and aid.

In 1922, Salah Farhat and Destour were accused of carrying out an anti-French political campaign by reconciling Destourian principles with Communist claims. Salah Farhat formally denies in several newspaper articles any link between Destour and communism.

In 1923, at the departure of Sheikh Thaalbi, founder of Destour, in exile, he became Deputy Secretary General of Destour, with Ahmed Safi as Secretary General.

He actively participates in the political life of the country through direct contacts with grassroots activists, with unions and workers, by creating Destourian cells in the most remote regions of the country. Journalist and Party theorist, he defines the guiding principles of Destour through his numerous patriotic writings in the French press.

Destours political, social and union demands are made through direct contact with France and a dialogue with the socialists and the colonial authorities, based on respect for treaties, international law and the policy of non-violence. Salah Farhat is loyal to the Destour program and to the stage policy launched by his predecessors and will remain loyal to him when he takes over the leadership of the Party. Any claim, any action by the Party must aim at a final goal, the independence of Tunisia which must be guaranteed in writing and fixed at a fixed date.

On May 11, 1924, after the victory of the left in the elections in France, Destour decides to send Salah Farhat, its Deputy Secretary General, to France, to congratulate the elected members of the Cartel des Gauches and especially the President of the Radical Party Edouard Herriot, to expose Tunisian claims and prepare the ground for sending a new delegation to France.

End of 1924, he was part of the 3rd Tunisian delegation responsible for defending Tunisian claims in Paris to the French Government. The delegation, composed of Master Ahmed Safi, Secretary General of Destour and head of the delegation, of Salah Farhat, Deputy Secretary General, of Taoufik Madani and of Master Taieb Jemaïl, is dismissed, because the French Government accuses him of colluding with Communists and double talk between the Arab press which is virulent in its attacks against colonialism and the French-speaking press which is rather conciliatory. Salah Farhat is considered by the Protectorate authorities as "a dangerous propagandist who can favor or take the lead of all movements hostile to France or to the Protectorate government. His writings or speeches leave no doubt about his feelings. He is a very influential member of the Party and a real agitator.

The colonial authorities then tried, on several occasions, to have him removed from the Bar to end his professional career and his political career and thus behead the Party of Destour.

On September 18, 1926, Salah Farhat married Kalthoum Khaznadar, sister of Chedly Khaznadar, a nationalist poet, and one of the tenors of Destour.

After the split of Destour and the creation of the Neo-Destour in 1934, Salah Farhat, a man of peace and reconciliation, was appointed to a Commission to safeguard the unity of the Party. But all his efforts and those of Destour were in vain.

In 1935, after the death of Ahmed Safi, he was elected Secretary General of Destour, then President of the Party.

He seconded Thaalbi, upon his return to Tunisia in 1937, for the reunification of the national movement and the formation of a common front against colonialism, but to no avail.

During the Second World War and during the occupation of Tunisia by Axis troops, he was appointed Minister of Justice to His Highness Moncef Pasha Bey, who formed an independent Government from all the political tendencies of the country, with the first Ministry Chenik from January 1 1943 to May 14, 1943.

Salah Farhat and the other Ministers resign from the Government, after the liberation of Tunisia by the Allies, the illegitimate and unjust dismissal of Moncef Bey by General Giraud and his exile in Laghouat in the south of Algeria.

Immediately a Movement for the return of the legitimate Bey on his throne, known as Moncefism, is constituted and unifies all the political tendencies of the country and the whole of the Tunisian people for the defense of Moncef Bey accused, without foundation, of to be against the Allies and for the Axis Powers, when he has never ceased to assert Tunisias neutrality and when France only criticizes him in reality for his independence from the Protectorate authorities.

Salah Farhat supported with fervor by his interventions, his visits, his letters, his articles and his telegrams of protest, Moncefisme and this Bey patriot and martyr during his exile from May 14, 1943 to September 1, 1948, date of his death in Pau, France. Aware of his unwavering loyalty and his veneration for his person, Moncef Bey maintained numerous correspondence with Salah Farhat approving his struggle, encouraging him in the defense of Monasticism and recommending him to work for national unity against colonialism.

From 1944, on the death of Sheikh Thaalbi, Salah Farhat became the undisputed leader of the Party.

On October 30, 1944, 17 Tunisian personalities, including Salah Farhat, representing the different nationalist tendencies, signed the Tunisian Charter which constitutes the basis of the National Front which united these different tendencies after the end of the second World War.

On August 23, 1946, during the Night of Destiny Congress, of which he was the instigator, a common front formed between all political tendencies and in particular between Salah Farhat, Secretary General of Vieux Destour and Salah Ben Youssef, Secretary General of Neo Destour and claims total independence, but the occupying forces interrupt the meeting and arrest the two leaders with a large number of political leaders whom they imprison at the Civil Prison of Tunis. Salah Farhat will remain there with other nationalists for a month.

After the Night of Destiny Congress, Salah Farhat plays an important role in the reunification of the two destinies, in the absence of Bourguiba. The close collaboration between Salah Farhat and Salah Ben Youssef proves that the two destinies had the same conceptions and used the same methods to resist against colonialism.

Despite certain reforms and promises from the Colonial Authorities, Salah Farhat continues his uncompromising fight by defending public freedoms and demanding total independence, without accepting any of the proposed government responsibilities.

Prompted, in fact in 1947, for the constitution of a Tunisian Government, Salah Farhat refused, believing that there was no guarantee of achieving independence.

In 1951, he reiterated his refusal to be part of the new team of the second Chenik Ministry, for the same reasons.

As a disinterested and free man, disdaining any partisan struggle, Salah Farhat becomes the spokesperson for the political conscience of Tunisia and defines the best interests of the country, with only one claim for the total independence of Tunisia.

On October 31, 1951, Tunisia presented an official memorandum to France claiming internal autonomy. The response of the French Government was delayed until December 15, 1951 and resulted in a categorical refusal of the Tunisian claims.

The breakdown of the dialogue by France is accompanied by a stiffening of the Protectorate Authorities. The appointment of Jean de Hautecloque as the new General Resident who arrives in the midst of a large military deployment heralds a change of perspective in Franco-Tunisian relations. France opts for force and dismisses any negotiated solution. 1952 is a dark year for Tunisia. General Garbey, Superior Commander of the Tunisian Troops, responded to the incidents in the Sahel with the sweep of Cap Bon, which had more than 200 dead and hundreds of wounded and prisoners. Persevering in the politics of force, the Resident General dismisses the second Chenik Government and tries to isolate Lamine Bey, without succeeding completely thanks to the support of a Committee of forty Tunisian personalities of all political tendencies, including Salah Farhat.

At the end of the same year, the French terrorist organization in Tunisia, the Red Hand assassinated the trade union leader Farhat Hached.

The use of excessive force by the Colonial Authorities led to a vigorous reaction from the Tunisian people, the institution of armed struggle in Tunisia and a complaint against France to the UN Security Council.

Salah Farhat faces these irresponsible actions of the Protectorate Authorities which he denounces in the local and international press.

In 1952 he moved to Paris with several members of the Vieux Destour to sensitize the various delegations of Arab, Muslim and non-aligned countries to the Tunisian cause and draw their attention to the complaint brought by Tunisia against France to the United Nations.

In 1954, during the armed struggle, his villa in Kram was plasticized by the Red Hand, a French terrorist organization in Tunisia, like those of many political figures.

In 1955, Salah Farhat opposed the talks on internal autonomy and the Franco-Tunisian Conventions which risk definitively linking the fate of Tunisia to that of France and including it within the French Union and affirms again that the only acceptable claim is the countrys total independence.

After the independence of Tunisia, obtained faster than expected on March 20, 1956, he declines any governmental responsibility which is proposed to him in a personal capacity and does not include any member of the Old Destour who fought so much for independence and finally renounces to any political activity.

For his selflessness and his long relentless struggle, he received the highest distinctions in his country.

A very popular poet of French expression since his adolescence, he published, in local newspapers and especially in the Revue "Leïla" 1936-1941 certain poems under the pseudonym Skander. His poems are admired by Tunisian and foreign literary and artistic circles which he frequented assiduously.

In 1978, he published a selection of poems in a collection entitled "Songs of love" where patriotism, love of neighbor and the spirit of conciliation are always present.

He died at the age of 84, on March 18, 1979, in his villa in the Kram and rests in the cemetery of Sidi Abdelaziz in La Marsa, facing the sea symbol of freedom for which he fought so much.

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