Dear  Members,

There are no words to describe the shameful display of uncontrolled thugery caught on TV and mobile phones.  Like you, I watched for days in and days out, with utter disgust. This savage behavior is being inflicted on our people as they try to raise their voices in protest against the repressive tactics of our government. Most disturbing is the violence perpetuated against women, young and old, many of whom are mothers and even grandmothers. 

However, if you think that this a new trend, peculiar to our new generation, and, la samah Allah, this is only an aberration in our culture, think again.

In fact, thugery (al-baltagah) and the practice of beating and abusing women who demonstrate against the establishment, is a national pastime that goes way back in Egypt's history.

I have taken the liberty of posting the story of 16 women's ordeal to acquaint you with this sad trend which appears to be deeply engrained in our short political life. 

The year was 1932, and these events ironically took place smack in the middle of what is described by the misnomer of The era of "Liberalism." 

The weirdest thing is that what happened then is almost a carbon copy of what we are witnessing today.   Even Iraq was prominent in the news at that time and was often mentioned as a matter of grave concern. 

The incident in question occurred during the elections held under the dictatorial rule of Isma`iyl Sidqqiy (1)

Sidqqiy Pasha, Egypt's "political tiger", as some used to call him, was a former associate of Sa`d Zaghluwl who held office with ability in various governments since I908Sidqqiy always followed his own path with ill-concealed contempt for his fellow Egyptians.  A millionaire businessman, Sidqqiy had been one of the original promoters during the First World War of Egyptian-controlled capitalist enterprise.

His period was dominated by a strong repressive government which ruled in conjunction with the monarch (king Fuw'ad).

With the help of British troops he suppressed popular demonstrations and went on to amend the 1923 constitution and the electoral law to increase the king's powers and ensure the defeat of the Wafd in the 1931 elections.

Sidqqiy kept many party leaders, particular those of the Wafd, outside the normal channels of political activity.  Such behavior in turn further alienated many followers of the Wafd from its leadership, and this inevitably strengthened the more extremist parties, particular the Muslim Brethren

The Wafd and the Brethren were in the opposition, while the Sidqqiy government was bent on at falsifying the elections. Demonstrations took place to protest the farcical results. The Sidqqiy Government  responded by unleashing its troops to quell the unrest. While women were participating in the demonstrations, unruly "thugs" (baltagiyah) were given the green light to do the unthinkable: To physically assault them. Sixteen courageous women of distinguished families were put in jail and were subjected to physical harm and verbal abuse aimed at humiliating them.  Sound familiar?

As these women were put on trial, they were defended by an eloquent and famous lawyer, the late honorable Makram `Ibayd, who was a leading member of the Wafd party. 

The following excerpt of what happened 74 years ago to these16 brave women was narrated in Sabriy 'Abuw al-Magd's "Sanawat ma qabl al-thawrah, (1930-1952).  It is posted below for your edification. 

Akhuwkum Ishinan 


Isma`iyl Sidqqiy (1875-1950): Egyptian statesman. He joined Zaghluwl Pasha and the Wafd in the struggle for Egyptian independence. With Zaghluwl and others he was deported by the British to Malta, but released at Edmund Allenby's insistence in April 1919. Subsequently Sidqqiy broke with Zaghluwl, and, with the British, soon became the Wafd's most formidable enemy.





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