El Moudjahid is currently an Algerian French language newspaper, published daily (except on Fridays) and founded in 1962 at the end of the Algerian War of Independence. It had previously been used during the War as the title of the information bulletin of the FLN, the “organe central du Front de libération nationale”, which was widely circulated amongst resistance fighters. El Moudjahid was first published clandestinely from June 1956 in Algiers, then, for issues 8-10 in Morocco, and from November 1st 1957 in Tunis. An Arabic version was also produced, Al Mudjâhid, with somewhat different content.
In 1962 the content of El Moudjahid was reprinted as a three volume monographic set with analytical indices – by a printer based in Belgrade in Yugoslavia. This is indicative of the close ties which existed between Algerians and Yugoslavs at this time. Belgrade gave strong support to the provisional government in Tunis from 1957, and established a clinic for wounded soldiers of the Algerian liberation army, for example.
The famous motto of El Moudjahid , “La révolution par le peuple et pour le peuple”, is prominently displayed on the reprint cover. The opening lines of the introduction assert its intention :
Tout au long de la lutte de liberation nationale algérienne, El Moudjahid … a publié les positions essentielles, les analyses et les directives de la révolution algérienne.
The publication incorporates in reduced format facsimiles of the title pages of the bulletin, but does not otherwise include any of the original photographs. The articles are all reprinted in a different and clearer typesetting. 91 issues were originally produced between June 1956 and March 1962, so these three volumes consist of nearly 2,000 pages of text.
El Moudjahid is a French transliteration of the Arabic Mujahid, meaning “holy warrior”, a name used by the FLN to describe its soldiers. The preface to volume one of the Library’s set gives a detailed publishing history, and describes how in 1958 “l’ennemi colonialiste” made four attempts to forge issues of the publication, which were circulated in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and France. However, “la supercherie est vite éventée, et l’offensive inventée par les services français d’action psychologique tourne à leur confusion”.
The French edition was edited by Redha Malek, who was later Algerian ambassador to France and briefly Prime Minister during the decennie noire (the civil war of the 1990s). Although contributions were unsigned, many texts were written by Frantz Fanon, some of these later being published in his posthumous volume Pour la révolution africaine (part of 640:6.c.201.1).
Jean Khalfa of Trinity College spotted a copy of El Moudjahid offered for sale by a small bookseller in Escueillens in France, which after some negotiation we were able to secure for the collections of the University Library. The set is in excellent condition, and currently stands at T644.b.26.1-3. We believe that SOAS and the British Library Document Supply Centre are the only two other locations in the United Kingdom which hold this material.