Suleiman al-Halabi

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Modern Drawing of Suleiman al-Halabi

Suleiman al-Halabi, also spelled Soleyman El-Halaby (Kurdish: Seleman Ous Qopar‎, Arabic: سليمان الحلبي ‎‎ ) (1777–1800) was a Syrian Kurdish[1] theology student in Cairo who assassinated French general Jean Baptiste Kléber, leader of the French occupation forces in Egypt. He was tortured by burning his hand to the bone before being executed by impalement.

Early life[edit]

Suleiman al-Halabi was born in 1777 in Aleppo, Syria (The famous Aleppo historian Khair al-Din al-Asadi has mentioned in his book Mawsūʻat Ḥalab al-muqāranah (comparative Encyclopedia of Aleppo) that Suleiman Al-Halabi is From the Wannes family and that the Wannes family have a family tree that was verified by many heritage experts confirming his affiliation to the Wannes family in the city of Aleppo and not to the family of Os and the village of Afrin, as mentioned by some researchers and historians. )[2]. His religious father, Mohammad Amin, worked in the profession of selling butter and olive oil.

In 1797, al-Halabi's father sent him to Cairo, Egypt to study Islamic sciences at Al-Azhar University.

Assassination, trial and execution[edit]

On June 14, 1800, al-Halabi approached Kléber's home in the guise of a beggar seeking an audience with Kléber. He was 23 years old when he assassinated the commander of the French campaign on Egyptian soil. After they shook hands, he violently pulled the general toward him and stabbed him four times with a stiletto. Kléber's chief engineer tried to defend him and was stabbed but not mortally wounded.

He hid in a nearby park where he was found by French soldiers, who searched him and found his stiletto. He was arrested and tortured, his right arm burnt to the bone while he denied any relationship with Sheikh Al-Sharkawi or the popular resistance movements. He was tried and sentenced to death by impalement.


Today his skull and stiletto are on display at the Musée de l'Homme in Paris, under the caption, "Criminal," written in French.

An Arab nationalist play based on his assassination of General Kléber, "Sulayman Al-Halabi," was written by Egyptian playwright Alfred Farag in 1965. In Farag's interpretation, Al-Halabi's motives have more to do with popular Arab revolt against foreign occupation and tyranny, rather than political assassination for financial gain.


External links[edit]

Gazetteer Syrian Volume II page 668