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Arabs in the Spanish Civil War: Two novels

October 14, 20216:00 p.m.
Casa Árabe Auditorium (at Calle Alcalá, 62). 6:00 p.m. Free entry until the event’s capacity is reached. Mask use is required at all times.
In Arabic and Spanish, with simultaneous translation.

On Thursday, October 14 in Madrid, we will be hosting a dialogue about Arab participation in this Spanish conflict in conjunction with the presentation of the books Ali, el brigadista, by Hussein Yassin, and En el nombre de Padre, by Luis Salvago.

Many angles have been explored about a civil war that continues to raise controversy and outcries in Spain. Whether a festering wound or a leftover historical memory, the turth is that the role-players in this fratricidal conflict were not limited to just two sides in an ideologically divided country. The international dimensions of the civil war have been analyzed, but the centrifugal force of the battles drew in all sorts of soldiers, both voluntarily and involuntarily, and they all lived their own personal stories.

The two novels we are presenting at Casa Árabe portray stories that seem to lie at the fringes upon first glance: Shortly before the outbreak of the civil war, a young man from Tangiers is assigned to a disciplinary company in charge of the firing squad at Cape Juby, inside Spain’s North African protectorate. Ali, el brigadista by Hussein Yassin and En el nombre de Padre by Luis Salvago show the ripple effects of a conflict that is still adding to history and creating new stories even today. The event will feature authors Hussein Yassin and Luis Salvago, who will hold a dialogue with Arabist Carmen Ruiz-Bravo Villasante. The event will be presented by Karim Hauser of Casa Árabe.

Ali, el brigadista. Historia de un hombre recto (Ali, the Brigade Member: Story of an upstanding man), by Hussein Yassin 
There were hundreds of Arabs who fought in the International Brigades to defend the Republic and fight fascism. Palestinian Ali Abduljáliq (whose remains lie in the common ossuary at the cemetery of Los Llanos in Albacete) was one of them. Hussein Yassin, author of Ali, un brigadista palestino, uses the novel’s appendices to tell how he found Ali’s grave, including the burial record and a photo of the tombstone that he placed in Ali’s memory. Based on a true and indisputable fact, the novel reconstructs Ali’s life from birth to death, examining the settings and situations that took him from herding in his childhood village to becoming an active member of the Palestinian Communist Party, having received political training in Moscow and been jailed several times until the British colonial authorities gave him the choice between serving his sentence in full or leaving the country to fight in the Spanish Civil War, where the last third of his story takes place.

En el nombre de Padre (In the Name of Father), by Luis Salvago
Shortly before the beginning of the civil war, a young man from Tangiers is assigned to a disciplinary company in charge of the firing squad at Cape Juby, in
Spain’s North African protectorate. The novel narrates the living conditions and personal story of the main character until late 1939. In addition to the harshness of the African desert and the horror of the task he is entrusted with, he fights a personal battle to free himself from his father’s influence, which forces him to relive his past. As the author says: “each generation expects the next to solve the problems left behind by the previous generation.” En nombre de Padre is a moving story about those who fought on the wrong side, for whom the war’s outcome would always mean defeat.
Arabs in the Spanish Civil War: Two novels