The Sultan of Algeria Was Killed and Algeria was handed over to Ottoman Occupation by
Aruj and Barbarossa brothers... They have Treacherously Raised the Flag of the Pirates on the Map of Maghreb Region
The fall of Al- Andalus in (1492) had an impact on The Arab coast of North Africa, especially those cities near Spanish shores. The Towns of Algerian coast were more affected. Many years before the fall, Andalusians sent delegations followed by delegations to Ottoman Sultans in Istanbul inciting the Islamic intense interest among them. However, this was in vain with regard to the two Sultans, Mohammed Al- Fatih and Bayezid II, who deemed the matter from an ethnic point of view against Andalusian Arabs, in addition, taking into consideration political, and economic interests with Europeans. Al- Andalus, after all, is an Arab competitor of Ottomans in Europe and Turks did not want to come into conflict with Europeans for their sake.
Al- Andalus has fallen along with the last Arab stronghold in Europe. Arab cities of North Africa seemed exposed to greedy European invaders. In addition, the door was widely open before thieves and pirates to go on an adventure and seize the opportunity.
The efforts of Ottomans should have been focused to restore Al- Andalus, and to support its people who were displaced and dislodged in North Africa, but they, instead, seized the opportunity to occupy Algeria in (1516), few years after Al- Andalus fall. After the fall of Al- Andalus and the fall of Mamluk state in Egypt, Turks found the gates of the Arab world wide open for them to fall upon, driven by its greediness and dominance, the Arab lands in order to occupy and enslave them.
Ottoman Empire was not satisfied after all this, it has opened its doors for Jews of Al- Andalus, inhabited them, and gave them safe refuges in Turkey first, then in Palestine. As for Arabs, they were left for their inevitable fate.
The situation of Algerians in which they sought the help of Ottomans was deemed by Ottomans as an opportunity to occupy the Countries of Maghreb Region and to practice their policy of despising Arabs.
On the other hand, everything was completely left for Europeans after Al- Andalus fall. Such fall was a Spanish- Ottoman congruity to control the Mediterranean Sea. However, this did not prevent Spaniards from harassing the Afro- Arab coast. Thus, local population was prompted to ask for the assistance of Ottomans once more when they forgot how its rulers failed their Andalusian neighbors only few years ago.
This time Ottomans had another point of view. They found that it was an opportunity to occupy Algeria instead of confronting Spaniards. After their occupation of Egypt, land routes became open before them. Ottomans were supposed to support Algerians to stand up to Spanish hostility. Nevertheless, “Ottoman wolf” entered Algerian territory and refused to leave except after more than 300 years. Algerians trusted those who used Islam as a cover, and stole the caliphate; then, when they arrived in their lands thanks to their lies, they colonized them, and made them a second class within their ethnic Sultanate.
The Sultan of Algeria at that time, Salem Al- Toumi, sought the help of Aruj and Khairuddin Barbarossa brothers. These two sailors were famous for being experienced sea robbers who had a small fleet that aimed at cutting off the road and plundering the merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea seizing their weapons, money, and supplies; and enslaving their sailors.
Algerian historian Mubarak Helal El- Mili mentioned in his book The History of Algeria that when Aruj, the pirate, entered Algeria, he was greeted by Sheikh Salem Al- Toumi and the city residents as liberators. Aruj quickly emplaced a number of cannons towards a small island dominated by Spaniards. He sent to the commander of the Spanish garrison an order of surrender but the Spanish commander rejected. Therefore, Aruj fired his cannonballs at the Spanish stronghold but his cannon was too weak to enable him of achieving the expected victory.
El- Mili also added that the prestige of Turks have fallen in the eyes of Algeria people. In addition, the people of Algeria port started to be fed up with the Turks actions who rudely treated Algerians as they showed the first signs of rebellion. Nevertheless, Aruj, the pirate, went himself to the house of Sultan Salem Al- Toumi and killed him with his own hands in the bathroom where he had found him. Then, he went out to his soldiers and declared himself the Sultan of Algeria.
This has never happened in history except by Ottomans. This how a pirate became a ruler as he infiltrated his country under the pretext of supporting him, then he failed him and dominated his people. After that, he assassinated him and declared himself a ruler instead of him using his soldiers and mercenaries whom he has brought there.
In the city of Tlemcen, Aruj Pasha has repeated his action as he got rid of its legitimate Algerian ruler, Abo Zayan, then he turned to the people imposing levies, fees, and taxes upon them according to a systematic policy to eliminate the ruling house and administrative jobs replacing them with Turkish element.
Algerian researcher, Muhammad bin Maddour, said: “That Ottomans have demolished many mosques and small mosques. Is it conceivable that they demolish mosques and small mosques and build other ones then give one of the mosques they have built the name of an animal as Ketchaoua mosque means the goat. After that, they faced some revolutions that rejected their rule of the country because they humiliated the people and imposed taxes upon them”.
Some historical resources also mention that the original name of Khairuddin Barbarossa was “Khosrif or Khosrow” which is originally a Byzantine- Greek name. This affirms that he was just a pirate used by Ottoman Empire in order to achieve its interests and to humiliate Algerians. Thus, it enabled him to seize it.
The historical resources also confirm that once the two pirates, Aruj and his brother Barbarossa, arrived in Algeria after the unfortunate invitation of its people, Aruj has emplaced his cannons towards the fortress where Spaniards centered but he failed. Thus, it is confirmed that his cannons were not army cannons, they were rather weapons held by pirates for looting and plundering. Although his shelling lasted for more than twenty days, he was weak and did not affect the fortress at all. This aroused suspicion among the people, as well as the immoral treatment of sailors with local population. This has prompted Algerians to demand the actual ruler, Salem Al- Toumi, to expel and drive them out of the country after they have turned into a curse.
When Aruj, the pirate, became aware of the people’s demand and felt its danger to him and his ambitions of becoming a ruler after he had been a pirate, he killed Salem Al- Toumi with his own hands. Thus, Aruj have become the holder of the absolute authority so he declared himself to be its Sultan. He raised his flag over its walls and castles, then, he quickly coined money with his logo.
Egyptian researcher, Walid Feckry, said in a research of the relationship of Aruj and his brother Barbarossa: “Khairuddin has decided to be in the train of Ottomans as they were considered the new masters. Therefore, he corresponded Selim I in 1519 and his letter implied pleas to connect Algeria issue with Ottomans. His requests from judges, jurists, notables and various groups that were told to the Sultan asking to put Algeria at his disposal came to the point that they described themselves as “The Slaves of Ottoman Empire”. (This was a letter which they wrote by order of Khairuddin, not on their own initiative). He concluded his letter saying that he would have headed personally to Istanbul to stand before the Sultan, unless it was for the entreaties of Algerians to him- Khairuddin- to remain among them to protect their country.
Selim I did not hesitate to seize the opportunity, as from nowhere he found that a large sector of the Mediterranean ports were opening its gates before him at no cost. Thus, he sent to Khairuddin appointing him to the position of ruling Algeria and sent a farman to give him the title of “Baklerbek”- which was the highest title of an Ottoman ruler- and also sent him two thousands Janissary soldiers to help him.
So it was a win- win deal for both parties, as Khairuddin was no longer a pirate or a travelling warrior, he rather became an Ottoman ruler and leader. As for Ottomans, they have won a land at an insignificant price. Rather, they went further as they appointed Khairuddin as a leader of their fleet so that they would exploit his talents and skills although the people demanded Ottomans to leave him positioned in North Africa but Ottoman- as usual- gave priority to his interest over the Empire’s interest.
Before the arrival of Ottomans, the life of Algerians was a mixture of freedom and confronting Spanish dangers. Nevertheless, after Ottoman occupation, they turned to an occupied people that was under the dominance oppression of Turkish soldiers and employees. Algerians have realized this early, but it was too late, as Turkish pirates seized the small parts connecting the country under the pretext of supporting and backing them against Spaniards.
Ottomans, as always, permanently aimed at Turkifying any land they occupied, as Ottomans connected their lives to eastern Anatolian civilization and transferred its features to Algeria. They also refused to integrate with the Arab element wherever they found it, as was the case in Algeria as well. This was represented in transferring the Turkish administrative and military systems, as well as their economic and social treatments and imposing them on Andalusian, Kargali, and urban elements; as well as the Algerian groups of various social, cultural and financial categories in spite of the linguistic difference.
The Ottoman era in the Regency of Algiers was known from the seventeenth century to the first quarter of the nineteenth century of cultural stagnation compared to the scientific and industrial renaissance that Europe witnessed. This is not strange as the whole Arab world that was subject to Turkish occupation faced that civilizational ordeal as Ottomans deliberately made them stay behind and kept them civilly and culturally isolated so that it would be easier to rule them.
- Mubarak El- Mili, The History of Alegeria in Ancient and Modern Times (Algeria: National Book Foundation, n.d.).
- Hassan Kachroud, Salaries of Soldiers and General Employees, As Well As Their Social and Economic Conditions in Ottoman Algeria (Rawatib Al- Jund Wa Awdahom Al- Egtim’ia Wa Al- Iktisadya Bilgaza’r Al- Othmania), Master’s Thesis, Mentouri University (2007).
- Walid Feckry, The Ottoman Crime (Al- Jarima Al- Othmania) (Cairo: Al Rewaq Publishing and Distribution, 2021).
- Memoirs of Hayreddin Barbarossa, translated by: Mohammed Darag (Algeria: Al- Asala Company, 2010).
- Saleh Abbad, Algeria during the Turkish rule (Al- Jaza’r Khilal Al- Hokm Al- Turkey)1514- 1830 (Algeria: Dar Houma, 2012).
- Abdelkader Al- Milek, The Impact of the Moorish Andalusian Revolutions on the Algerian- Spanish Relations (Ta’thir Thawrat Al- Morskeen Al- Andaluseen Al’ Al- Elakat Al- Gazairya Al- Espanya), Master’s Thesis, University of Ghardaia (2012).