Mustapha Ben Ismaïl

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Mustapha Ben Ismaïl

Mustapha Ben Ismaïl (أبو النخبة مصطفى بن اسماعيل), born around 1850 at Bizerte and died in 1887 at Istanbul,[1] was a Tunisian politician.

His origins are obscure and few details are known of his youth. Some hostile sources make him the son of a Jewish convert and an unknown Tunisian man, with his mother remarrying to a Muslim and settling in Tunis. Subsequently he is meant to have begged on the streets of the capital, worked in a Maltese tavern and then for a barber, before being hired by an offer of the guard of the Bey of Tunis, who brought him into the palace. There he is said to have been noticed by Muhammad III as-Sadiq at the beginning of his reign.

The Bey appointed him Intendant of his Civil List, a general of his guard, and Qaid of Cap Bon. His influence is discernable from the end of 1872 and grew without pause. After he contributed to the fall of Mustapha Khaznadar, he became Minister of the Navy in October 1873, in the government of Hayreddin Pasha, then Minister of the Interior and member of the International Financial Commission in July 1877, and finally Grand Vizier on 24 August 1878 - a post which he held until 12 September 1881. During his vizierate, Ben Ismaïl stirred up the anger of the Bey against Hayreddin's reforms and policy of court austerity. Little by little Ben Ismaïl gained the majority of Hayreddin's property as it was confiscated by the Bey. Influenced by the French consul, Ben Ismaïl began to support the development of French enterprise in Tunisia, then became more favourable towards the Italians, France's competitors, from 1880.

The establishment of the French protectorate of Tunisia and the death of Sadok Bey in 1882 ruined his career, but he managed to retain a small part of his fortune and fled to Istanbul, where he became obscure. He died almost completely destitute according to the French historian Jean Ganiage.[1] However, he appears to have financially supported the first Tunisian nationalist exiles after the establishment of the protectorate, with whom he retained some contacts, which argues against the idea that he was in financial difficulty, as do his favourable connections with the Ottoman state.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b Ammar Mahjoubi, Khaled Belkhodja et Abdelmajid Ennabli, Histoire générale de la Tunisie, Vol. III « Les temps modernes », éd. Sud Éditions, Tunis, 2007, p. 431
  2. ^ Andreas Tunger-Zanetti, La communication entre Tunis et Istanbul, 1860-1913 : province et métropole, éd. L'Harmattan, Paris, 1996
Preceded by
Mohammed Khaznadar
Grand Vizier of Tunis
1878-1881
Succeeded by
Mohammed Khaznadar
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