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 Kukan village, Afrin. 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. After three years of study, he returned to Kukan. There he was surprised to learn of his father's poverty as a result of heavy fines and taxation demanded by Ottoman authorities.

The authorities offered to lift his imprisoned father's financial burden if he would assassinate French Army General Jean Baptiste Kléber[citation needed]. He agreed and traveled to Cairo to carry out the assassination.[citation needed]

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