Abdelaziz Khaldi


Abdelaziz Khaldi

“Les conditions de la renaissance” was the very first book written by Malek Bennabi which I’ve read. The man who wrote its preface was Dr. Abdelaziz Khaldi and that’s how I first heard of him. Then this name appeared more and more often through Bennabi’s books which increased my curiosity about him. Unfortunately the internet doesn’t have much to give and so is the case for the books available in Algeria, which is even more unfortunate as it proves once again that Algeria doesn’t value its intellectuals.It was only in 2009 that Noureddine Khendoudi wrote a book (Abdelaziz Khaldi: Une conscience Algérienne; published by El Dar El Othmania) about Dr. Khaldi with a biography, some of his articles and also his views on many of our society’s issues.

Abdelaziz Khaldi (born 1914, Tebessa – died mar. 1972, Algiers) studied in Annaba before going to Toulouse for medical sciences studies. As a doctor (medical doctor, pharmacist and lawyer were the only jobs “easily” accessible to the Algerians during the French occupation) he had worked in Skikda, Oum ElBouaghi, Taher, Tebessa and Algiers. Though he was always available for his patients, his biggest interest was into politics and on how to improve the Algerians’ situation. He wrote his first book, “Le problème Algérien devant la conscience démocratique”, in 1946. He then wrote in the Algerian newspapers using several pen names. This activity hasn’t stopped after our independence as he kept writing in “Révolution africaine” just like Bennabi.

Bennabi wrote in his memoirs that the young Khaldi was being targeted (to convert him to their cause) by leftist and communist activists while he was studying in Annaba. He wrote that he had to save him so that Algeria wouldn’t lose one of her sons, and he did so by “initiating” Khaldi to Nietzsche. The two men became close friends who only separated after Khaldi’s death (Bennabi died one year later). So their friendship and mutual respect were too strong despite the disagreements the two men had on several issues: for e.g. Khaldi kind of liked Louis Massignon, the Orientalist who hurt Bennabi so much (Bennabi called him the spider); and Khaldi was among the Algerian intellectuals who took part to Camus‘s “la trêve civile” in 1956 and I don’t think Bennabi liked the writer’s idea).

Khaldi was the kind of intellectuals which are missing in Algeria. He was a francophone with a deep knowledge of the Western civilisation but he had no excessive admiration for it and certainly not an inferiority complex towards it. He was aware of his Islamic heritage and proud of it as it could be seen in the speech he gave as a tribute for El Bachir El Ibrahimi.

In Khendoudi’s book, all the testimonies insist on Khaldi’s pamphleteer talent. He apparently excelled in this style which he used to defend his opinions. Le Monde newspaper wrote that he was the “éminence grise” of the Algerian government. He was indeed close to the politicians (in the system that is) but wasn’t one of them (he didn’t accept any official position and remained a “free” medical doctor, but he took over some missions ordered by Boumediene).

Below are excerpts from the article Dr. Khaldi wrote as a reaction to a French attack (not the first and not the last) on the women’s condition in Algeria. In this article, titled “la mini vadrouille”, he depicts all the aspects of the ideological battle which were developed first by Malek Bennabi.

L’affaire n’est plus du ressort des états mais des lobbys idéologiques. Une fois l’indépendance acquise. D’abord les traversées “culturelles” se font plus fréquentes. C’est entre autres, Johnny Hallidays qui vient distribuer des morceaux de sa chemise à nos girls en pâmoison. On reçoit aussi pour l’éducation de notre jeunesse pas mal de publications érotiques ou rocambolesques qui n’ont pas droit à l’exposition à Paris mais que notre jeunesse trouve sur tous les trottoirs algérois. Quant aux films, il suffit pour indiquer leur haut niveau éducatif et culturel de citer “la fureur de vivre” qui souffla des tempêtes sous bien de mini-jupes. Mais biensûr, les lobbys idéologiques n’allaient pas en rester là.
[…]
Pour mettre en relief les déchirures morales de la société algérienne, on fait appel à de nouvelles “désanchantées” en mini-jupes, qui sur un ton qui se veut émouvant font du plaidoyer en faveur de la femme algérienne, un réquisitoire contre leur pays, leur nation.
[…]
Il faut bien noter que cette émission n’est pas sortie du néant. Elle fait partie d’une orchestration dont nous avons trouvé quelques échos dans un récent numéro du Nouvel Observateur
[…]
Bien entendu le clou de l’émission demeure Fadhila Mrabet parce que visiblement son laîus était affranchi de toute forme à l’égard de son pays et de ses traditions. Sa jactance qui prit même le Coran pour cible savait son prix aux yeux du metteur en scène.
Il voulait sans doute établir sur des bases “scientifiques” solides, une doctrine: le Fadilo Mrabtisme.

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