The Story of Yousef El Musulmani [Correction]

June 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Recently, I wrote an article “An Italian Revert & A Martyr: The Story of Yousef El Musulmani“, which I picked up from various online sources. It was a very important story closely linked to the great Umar Mukhtar (see article here).

Much to my embarrassment (at the same time enlightening), I received comments from Ennio Scannapieco, an Italian writer who has written many articles on Yousef  El Musulmani (formerly known as Carmine Jorio). Having read his comments on my article, I believe that I have to give the man his due credit by publishing his comments and the corrected version of the story of Yousef  El Musulmani. Following were his original comments and the corrected facts:

Comment #1

Ennio Scannapieco  [June 16, 2012 at 10:02 AM]

As I have written five long articles about the history of Carmine Jorio, alias Yusuf el-Musulmani, I can say that the Fathi Ali Saahli book gives us many errors. First, Jorio was born in Altavilla Silentina, near Salerno, and not in Naples; his born-date was December 8, 1892, and not 1883; he joined the Italian army in 1912, not in 1901, so he could not partecipate to the firs Italian invasion of Libya; he was in the Italian garrison of Tucrah (or Tocra), and not in Derna, when he, on the night of the July 14, 1916, left his garrison; little after, he was captured by a Bedouin caravan that left him to Ajadabiah, before the great Sanusi Muhammad Idris.

In Ajdabiah Carmine Jorio escaped to the gallows because he was taken under the protection of the Idris’ brother, Sayied Muhammad er-Rida. So the Italian deserter accepted to stay among the Sanusi Mujahedins,to converted to Islam becoming Yusuf el-Musulmani, and to fight along with his friend Omar al-Mukhtar. It is very true that, before being shot after the trial, he refused to return to his former religion, but he done that only for the honour of his two sons remained among the Mujaheddin. But is very false – or better, ridiculous – that someone offered to Jorio the life in exchange for his return to the Christian religion. For the Italian army. the Jorio’s fault of betrayal was so great that no power might save his life.
The book of Fathi Ali Saahli is an example of a strange and inaccurate way of writing the history.

Very sincerely
Ennio Scannapieco, Salerno, Italy.

Comment #2:

Ennio Scannapieco  [June 18, 2012 at 8:28 AM]

Dear Mr. Othman:

many thanks for your very kind e-mail.

The incorrectness noted about the Fathi Ali Saahli’s booklet are not offensive for me, but perhaps only for some little historical truths. In Italy the story of Carmine Jorio/Yusuf el-Musulmani (not Carmine Jorio Giuseppe) is very well-known, al least until his escape from Tocrah’s Italian garrison and after his capture (on November 16, 1928) at the Gicherra Oasis, near Jialo. Jorio was born on the December 9, 1892, in the little town of Altavilla Silentina, province of Salerno; in 1911 he married a young girl of his country, but on the March 21, 1912, he was enlisted by the Italian army, and sent in Libya with the 79° regiment of infantry.

As proved by the Italian document (a sentence to death for desertion dated December 30, 1916), Jorio escaped from the prison of the Tocrah garrison (in which he had been shut up for row and drunkenness) and began his great adventure among the Sanusi Mujahedins. These are simple truths easily checked. Then, following a story that Jorio herself told to the Italian military authorities after his capture at Gicherra, after his escape from the military prison, he was captured – still drunk – by a Libyan caravan that took him first at el-Abjar, and then to Ajdabiah, residence of the Great Sanusi chief Muhammad Idris, the future king Idris I°.

Sentenced to the gallows, Jorio was saved, at the last moment, by the Great Sanusi’s brother Sayied Muhammad el-Rida. El-Rida has been infomed that Jorio was a marks-man (or a good shot) in his regiment, so he offered to Jorio a chance of salvation, but in exchange for a “little” favour: to kill for him two el-Rida’s enemies of another tribe!… Jorio accepted, and done so well this charge, that el-Rida took him under his protection and proposed to the Italian deserter to join with the Sanusi Mujahedins, taking however the oath to the Sanusi Brotherhood. Jorio had not other choices, so he accepted the proposal. Of course, this last part of the history is unverifiable, as we have only the words of Jorio himself. It is sure, nevertheless, that the poor Italian deserter, after some months learned very well the Arab language and the Qur’an, and accepted to be converted to the Islamic religion, taking the new name of Yusuf el-Musulmani.

But the true Jorio’s conversion was another one: he understood that the Libyan people had all rights to fight against the violent Italian colonialism, so decided to help the Libyan fighters for freedom, becoming friend and lieutenant of Omar al-Muthkar. Jorio married two Arab women, the second was a girl of great beauty named, in the italian documents, “Teber ben-Mussa”, but whose correct name was, following Fathi Ali Saahli, Tibra Musa al-Majebri (but another Libyan source gives a little different name: Tibra Musa al-Miqires). In 1928 the woman was captured by Italian soldiers, and to free her, Jorio fell in the fatal trap of Gicherra Oasis.

Even if some accounts of this story were in the booklet “Il mistero di Cufra” (1932) written by the fascist author Dante Maria Tuninetti, the true story of Carmine Jorio was known in Italy only after the Second World War and the fall of the Fascism. In 1931 a good Italian journalist, Francesco Maratea (1889-1977), during a trip in Libya interviewed the general Pietro Maletti who had questioned Carmine Jorio after his arrest and during the trial; but only in 1950 Maratea could publish a long reportage about the entire story of Yusuf el-Musulmani on an Italian magazine.

In 2004 another famed Italian journalist, Gian Antonio Stella, discovered again and popularized this exotic history. Four years after Stella wrote also a historic fiction (titled “Carmine Pasha”) in which Carmine Jorio is transformed in a literary personage. My dream to write an entire historical book on the adventurous life of Yusuf El-Musulmani has been frustrated, up till now, by my inability to purchase one of the works published in Libya on this subject. Even if a book as that one of Fathi Ali Saahli give us many biographical inaccuracies, I think that it might be very useful for my aim. Might you give me an advice or help for this purpose?

Apologizing for the length of this mail, thank you for your patient attention.

Very cordially, Ennio Scannapieco, Salerno, Italy

To the respected Ennio Scannapieco, my sincere gratitude to you for taking much of your precious time to advise me on the discrepancies. In the near future, I hope to use the new information from you and publish a more accurate article on Yousef El Musulmani. Thank you so much, Ennio Scannapieco.


An Italian Revert & A Martyr: The Story of Yousef El Musulmani

June 12, 2012 § 5 Comments

A great story in a small book written by Fathi Ali Saahli of CARMINE JORIO GIUSEPPE (Yousef El Musulmani). Yousef El Musulmani

Carmine Jorio was born to a Christian family in Naples, Italy in 1883. When he was a teenager he had a dream troubling him many nights and told his mother who called the village priest. He told the priest that he dreamt that he saw himself at the edge of a mountain and being transformed into a great bird, and when he was ready to fly a great serpent jumped at him and while he was struggling with the serpent he woke up.

The priest told him not to worry, that at sometime in his future he would become something else and his struggle with the serpent is the eternal struggle between good and evil.

In 1901 he joined the Italian army and specialized in small arms maintenance and repair. On 15 October, 1911, he was a sergeant and a member of the marine force of 15,000 strong directed to occupy the City of Derna in eastern Libya.

After ten days of bombardment and failed landings, the defending force of 3,500 Turk and Arab soldiers were finally defeated and the Italians occupied the Turkish garrison of the city and made it their own.  Count Trombi was then appointed as a governor and the garrison was strengthened by 1,500 soldiers and two battalions of Alpine Chasseurs.

Carmine Jorio became one of the soldiers in the Italian garrison of Derna. It seems that Carmine was very inquisitive of his new environment and wished to learn Arabic language and to understand the Quran. His battalion shared some of the vicious and heavy fighting against the Libyan Mujahedin in January 1915 around Derna and near Martouba.

In 1916 Carmine made the great step of his life, he fled Derna garrison and delivered himself voluntary to the Mujahedin in the outskirts of the Green Mountain. He was then taken to Al Fadeel Bu Omar الفضيل بو عمر one of Omar Mukhtar commanders where he declared his conversion to Islam and became known as Yousef El Musulmani يوسف المسلمانى .

Yousef El Musulmani became one of the free fighters of the land and a great help to the cause with his expertise in small arms and Italians tactics of war. He was present in the battles of Marsa Brega, Bir Bilal, Solug and many others. Omar Mukhtar made him a lieutenant and he married a girl from Kufra called Tibra Musa Al Majebri تبرة موسى المجبرى . He had two children, a boy called Mohamed محمد , and a girl called Aisha عائشة . His grandsons and granddaughters still live with us in their own home land.

His fantastic story ended abruptly when after twelve years and due to the betrayal of some traitors he was captured near Jialo oasis in 1928. As some high fascist officials were personally following up his case he was put to a quick trial on the spot , tried for high treason and given the verdict of capital punishment. He was then given the choice of converting back to his former religion and offered life instead, but he refused and willed only that his family –hidden then by his fellow Mujahedin- to be left living peacefully with his fellow Muslims.

Historical eyewitnesses say that he stood gallantly and read few verses of the Quran before he was hit by the firing squad in the market Jialo square, and he was buried in Jialo.

A record of Carmine’s story is found in several Fascist writings, bearing in mind that they represent the Fascist point of view. Those include Dante Maria Tuninetti, Secretary of the Fascist Party of Cyrenaica, several military officers and the Minister of Colonies then.

In 1991, Salvatore Bono, professor of Afro-Asian History of Perugia University, Italy wrote a research on the soldier that became a fighter with Omar Mukhtar.

Doesn’t Yousef El Musulmani Deserved To Be Remembered By Us?


Member of the Swiss Political Party that Pushed for Minaret Ban Converts to Islam

May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Original article by: Jason Hamza van Boom on December 4th, 2009

Daniel Streich, Member of the Swiss Political Party that Pushed for Minaret Ban Converts to Islam

The news about Switzerland’s ban on the construction of minarets has made the headlines, providing shocking evidence of the strength of increasing intolerance in Europe.

Daniel Streich, military instructor and, until recently, a Swiss People’s Party (SVP) politician in the city of Bulle, has left the party, the political party that pushed the minaret ban initiative. The reason: He converted to Islam. For two years he kept this secret from his ex-party. Now, with the “witch hunt against Islam,” this situation has become unbearable for him.

He was a true SVPer and Christian. He read the Bible and regularly went to church. Now Daniel Streich, military instructor and community council member, reads the Qur’an, prays five times a day and goes to a mosque.

“Islam offers me logical answers to important life questions, which, in the end, I never found in Christianity,” says Streich.

Because he could no longer stand the “SVP’s witch hunt against Islam” Streich left the part two weeks ago (around November 10, 2009) and has made his conversion to Islam become publicly known two years after his conversion. Now he’s participating in the building of the new Civil Conservative Democratic Party in the canton of Freiburg. The former churchgoer is vehemently against the minaret initiative: “If the initiative passes, it will be an absolute deep blow for me. I would have to ask myself, why I applied myself professionally and politically for over 30 years for this political system.” In contrast, Switzerland urgently needs more mosques. “It is not worthy of Switzerland to force Muslims to practice their faith in back alleys.”

Reactions in the SVP were mixed. “Everyone can believe what he wants to,” says General Secretary Martin Baltisser. SVP-National Council member Alfred Heer had a less friendly reaction. Political scientist Georg Lutz: “The SVP and Islam stand closer to each other than people suppose. Both advance a conservative worldview.”


Myriam Francois-Cerrah…from Hollywood to Makkah

May 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

The opening of Al Fatiha, with its address to the whole of mankind, psychologically stopped me in my tracks. It spoke of previous scriptures in a way which I both recognized, but also differed. It clarified many of the doubts I had about Christianity. It made me an adult as I suddenly realized that my destiny and my actions had consequences for which I alone would now be held responsible.

This is a short story about Myriam Francois-Cerrah, previously known as Emilie Francois (born in 1983), began her screen career at age 12 in Ang Lee‘s Sense and Sensibility (1995) in which she played Margaret Dashwood alongside Emma Thompsonand Kate Winslet. She went on to star in Paws (1997) alongside Nathan Cavaleri and Heath Ledger, and New Year’s Day (2000). [Admittedly, i have yet to watch any of her movies]

Francois-Cerrah,  British actress of French and Irish heritage, who reverted to Islam in 2003. I was introduced to her by a WardinaSaffiya (i shall write about her, soon enough) a couple of months back.

Myriam currently works as a freelance journalist, with her articles featured in “The Huffington Post“, “New Statesman“, The London PaperIndex on Censorshipthe F-Word, the magazine Emel,. Myriam has an MA with honours in Middle East politics from Georgetown University, and a BA from Cambridge University in Social and Political science, and is due to complete her PhD at Oxford University in Oriental Studies in 2012.

The Qur’an was pivotal for me. I first tried to approach it in anger, as part of an attempt to prove my Muslim friend wrong. Later I began reading it with a more open mind.

The opening of Al Fatiha, with its address to the whole of mankind, psychologically stopped me in my tracks. It spoke of previous scriptures in a way which I both recognized, but also differed. It clarified many of the doubts I had about Christianity. It made me an adult as I suddenly realized that my destiny and my actions had consequences for which I alone would now be held responsible.

In a world governed by relativism, it outlined objective moral truths and the foundation of morality. As someone who’d always had a keen interest in philosophy, the Qur’an felt like the culmination of all of this philosophical cogitation. It combined Kant, Hume, Sartre and Aristotle. It somehow managed to address and answer the deep philosophical questions posed over centuries of human existence and answer its most fundamental one, ‘why are we here?’

In the Prophet Muhammad, I recognized a man who was tasked with a momentous mission, like his predecessors, Moses, Jesus and Abraham. I had to pick apart much of the Orientalist libel surrounding him in order to obtain accurate information, since the historical relativism which people apply to some degree when studying other historical figures, is often completely absent, in what is a clear attempt to disparage his person.” 

[Excerpts from British Actress Inspired by Prophet’s Life]

More links on her:

Her blog

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