Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
30 Dec. 1999 - 5 Jan. 2000
Issue No. 462
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues
20th century Special issue  [INDEX]

< 1900-09 1910 - 1919 1920-29 >
Hussein Kamel Fouad I

1919 Revolution

Mohamed Farid
Sayed DarwishMohamed Hussein Heikal
George Abiad
Aziz Eid
Women protest the British occupation Huda Sha'rawi and Safiya Zaghlul
Cartoon Male patriots

In 1910, the government of Boutros Ghali extended the Suez Canal Company concession, a request demanded by the British and rejected by the Egyptian Legislative Assembly. Boutros Ghali paid for the decision with his life: he was assassinated by Ibrahim El-Wardani in February of the same year. Mohamed Farid (sidebar, third from bottom), the leader of the National Party after the death of Mustafa Kamel, was arrested for sedition. Gorst resigned in 1911 and was replaced by Kitchener who, in 1912, ordered that Mohamed Farid be sent into an exile from which he was never to return.

With the eruption of the Great War (1914-1919), Egypt was declared a British protectorate (bottom right: Egyptian nationalists with Ottoman sympathies); Khedive Abbas Helmi, who rallied the nationalists around him, was replaced by his uncle, Hussein Kamel, whose title under the Protectorate was the Sultan of Egypt (top, inset left). Nor was the shift from khedive to sultan the only change in titles the decade witnessed: Henry McMahon, as Britain's resident representative in Egypt, became British High Commissioner in 1915. The following year witnessed the conclusion of the secret Sykes-Picot agreement on the creation of British and French spheres of influence in the Arab world. Then came the Balfour Declaration, in 1917. The potential bombshells the region, would seek to defuse or detonate in following decades had been planted: the Sudan question, the Suez Canal, and the conflict in Palestine.

In 1917, too, Sultan Hussein Kamel died. Fouad I (top, inset right) became Sultan of Egypt, then king, after Egypt was granted formal independence in 1922.

However limited that independence was, it was the fruit of the heroic struggle of the Egyptian people, who rose behind the Wafd to demand independence in 1919. The 1919 Revolution (top, main photo), which closes the second decade of the 20th century, is too well known to recount here, but it ushered another national hero onto the stage: Saad Zaghlul, who would remain the uncontested leader of the Egyptian people until his death eight years after the Revolution. The opening of the next decade, marked by the arrival of the Milner Commission (bottom left), still seemed a long way away.

Alongside demands for national independence, a different, but related, emancipation movement was gaining force: women, who had protested the British occupation alongside their male compatriots in 1919 (centre row, left), were now asking for equal political rights. Huda Sha'rawi is perhaps the best known of the leaders of the women's movement; in a picture that sums up the intrinsic unity felt at the time between the cause of the nation's liberation and that of its women, she appears here with Safiya Zaghlul, Saad's wife and an activist in her own right (centre row, right).

Mutran Khalil MutranAs the century got underway, Egypt witnessed a cultural efflorescence. This was a golden age for theatre, pioneered by such luminaries as actor and director Naguib El-Rihani, actor and director George Abiad (sidebar, top) and actors Fatma Rushdi and Aziz Eid (sidebar, second from bottom), but also for literature, with Mohamed Hussein Heikal's publication in 1913 of Zeinab, widely recognised as the first novel in Arabic, and the inspired verse of poet Mutran Khalil Mutran (right). It was also, perhaps most famously, the decade of music: Sayed Darwish (sidebar, second from top) brought the music of the working classes to the rest of Egypt, composing and singing such perennial heartstoppers as Salma Ya Salama before his tragic death at the age of 30.


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