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]

< 1920-29 1930 - 1939 1940-49 >
King Farouk sworn in before parliament Mustafa Musharrafa
Umm Kulthum
Badi'a Masabni
Naguib El-Rehani
Tawfiq El-Hakim
The Nation's Leaders United
Anglo-Egyptian Treaty
Students Mohamed Karim

General elections were held in December 1929 and the Wafd, this time under Mustafa El-Nahhas's leadership, was brought to power with an overwhelming majority. Its first act was to introduce reforms to the Personal Status Law, which were to remain in force until the law was reformed again in 1979. In June 1930, the Wafd government was dismissed by the British, and Ismail Sidqi Pasha, one of the founders of the Union of Egyptian Industries, was brought in to curb political unrest. One "minority party" followed the other in forming unpopular governments and attempting to control an inflammable situation. Mass demonstrations demanding total evacuation continued until January 1934, when Sir Miles Lampson, the new British high commissioner, arrived in Egypt to negotiate a treaty.

The middle of the decade was rightly dubbed "The Years of Youth"; schools and universities were breeding grounds for militant activism (bottom left: 1936 demonstrations). When violence reached uncontrollable heights, a caretaker government with Ali Maher at its helm was formed to prepare for general elections, which brought in the Wafd in May 1936. The preceding month had seen the death of King Fouad; he was succeeded by his son Farouk, who was only crowned in July of the following year, as he was a minor at the time of his father's death (main picture, top: King Farouk sworn in before parliament). From the time of El-Nahhas's accession to power, he had been busily engaged in negotiations with Lampson to reach a treaty, which was concluded and ratified by parliament in November. The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty (third from top) granted Egypt independence, but included four restrictive clauses pertaining mainly to the presence of British troops in Egypt. Miles Lampson became ambassador, and Egypt joined the League of Nations as an independent country in 1937. The same year, the Capitulations were abolished.

The turbulent '30s had left their mark on political life: small parties, splinter groups and secret organisations mushroomed. Egypt was hardly united on the eve of World War II, in 1939. These divisions in the political life of the country inspired the decision by Al-Musawwar's editor, Fikri Abaza, to carry a photo-montage in which the nation's leaders were united at last (second ftom top). Alas, it was only a dream. Martial law and a state of siege were imposed by the British in October, as Britain entered the war.

The decade was more peaceful on the literary front, with the publication in 1933 of Tawfiq El-Hakim's seminal Return of the Spirit (sidebar, second from bottom). Music, dance, theatre and film experienced a new maturity: Umm Kulthoum (sidebar, second from top) had already begun to inspire the adoration that continues long after her death; and Badi'a Masabni (third from top) had arrived in Cairo on the arm of Naguib El-Rihani (fourth from top), who himself had made the transition to the talkies with consummate ease. Technological innovations in the cinema industry were largely pioneered by Studio Misr, which by 1933 was busily churning out movies like leading filmmaker Mohamed Karim's (bottom right) Al-Warda Al-Baydaa'.

Meanwhile, Egyptian scientists of international stature, such as eminent mathematician Ali Mustafa Musharrafa (sidebar, top), were coming into their own.

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