Mustafa Fahmi claimed deteriorating health when he submitted to Khedive Abbas the second the resignation of his Cabinet on November 11, 1908.  In fact he was then sixty-eight years of age and doing not too badly health wise.  The matter of the fact is that, after the departure of Lord Cromer and the tenure of Sir John Eldon Gorst, he felt the he was not “the man of the moment” any more, particularly that Sir John Eldon Gorst built, unlike Cromer, a very strong and friendly relationship with the Khedive.


Gorst was born in New Zealand on June 15, 1861, but reared in England where he studied at Eton school and Cambridge University.  In 1885 he became both a barrister and a member of the Diplomatic Service.  He was sent to Egypt, on 1886, as a Direct Taxes Controller, becoming Undersecretary for Finances (1892), adviser to the (Egyptian) Ministry of Interior (1894) and Financial Adviser (1898).  In 1904 he returned to London, where as Undersecretary of State, he in effect represented Lord Cromer in the Foreign Office.

With a new Liberal Party Government in power, Gorst was sent back to Egypt to replace Cromer with instructions to give the Egyptians greater responsibility to manage their interior affairs.  As British Agent, Gorst, with his “POLITIQUE D’ ENTENTE”, quickly improved relations with Khedive Abbas the Second, brought more Egyptians into Government Positions, which weakened the National Party (Al Hizb Al Watany).  However, his efforts to rein in the burgeoning corps of Anglo-Egyptian officials offended many old “Egypt Hands”.  His attempt to extend the Suez Canal Company‘s concession was disliked by all Egyptians.  This rejection, combined with the assassination of Butrus Ghali Pasha, the then Prime Minister of Egypt, caused Gorst to abandon his lenient policy in favor of a harsher one.  He had almost restored total British control over Egypt when he became stricken with cancer and went back to England where he died on July 12, 1911, at the age of fifty. 


To replace the Mustafa Fahmi Cabinet, and in spite of the advice of Gorst, Khedive Abbas the Second’s choice fell on Butros Ghali Pasha to form a new Cabinet.  Gorst tried to get the Khedive to desist explaining that a Christian Prime Minister in a predominantly Moslem Country was not advisable.  He gave as an example the unpopularity of Nubar Pasha but the Khedive sticked to his choice claiming that while Nubar was an Anatolian Armenian, Ghali Pasha was a genuine Egyptian who has served his country in different capacities.  Except for himself and Saad Zaghloul Pasha, Ghali did not keep any Ministers of the previous Cabinet.  He kept for himself the portfolio of Foreign Affairs, which he occupied in the Fahmi Pasha Cabinet, and Zaghloul Pasha kept the portfolio of Education. Zaghloul was then very popular amongst the Egyptians for being genuinely Egyptian unlike most of the Ministers in the previous Cabinets, who were either Turks or Circassians  (Tcherkess), and for having opposed successfully the unwarranted interference of the British Adviser to the Ministry of Education of which he was the Minister in the Cabinet of Fahmi Pasha, his father in law.

The oldest son of Ghali Nayrouz Bey, a high official at the service of the Khedivial Domain, Butros studied at the Coptic then the Princes School where he showed a great aptitude for languages.  He joined the Languages School and it was said that he became fluent in French, English, Turkish and Farsi beside the Arabic and Coptic languages.  On his return from Europe he was employed as a clerk at the Commerce Council of which he became Secretary.  After the institution of the Mixed Court, he was appointed as its Chief Clerk in 1874.  In 1882 he was appointed as the Cabinet Secretary then Deputy Minister of Justice.  In this position he became the chief architect of the of the Law instituting the National Courts and his interference on behalf of the Orabi insurgents requesting for them a fair trial probably saved many lives.  He was appointed as Minister of Finances in 1893 then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1895 until his assassination in 1910.

-To appease the growing Nationalism, the Ghali Cabinet authorized the Laws Shuri to participate in the government of the land by giving it the right to interpellate the members of the Cabinet and to allow the public to attend its meetings.  The Cabinet allocated the amount of six hundred and fifty Pounds to supply the Shuri with electrical power.  Another four hundred Pounds were allocated to install seats for the public attendance.

-The ever-growing Nationalist Movements having adopted new systems of opposition to the Government, such as mass demonstration, the Cabinet re-imposed the Exceptional Laws and revived the Press Laws that limited the freedom of the press.   These drastic steps did not help the Government and increased the animosity of the different Political Parties.  Several large demonstrations took place denouncing the limitation of the freedom of expressions.  Talking about the press, it is interesting to note that fifty-four newspapers and magazines were published in Egypt, in 1909, twenty-two of them in foreign languages and thirty-two in Arabic.

-Luck was not on the side of the Cabinet as the cotton crop, which was considered as the main source of wealth, deteriorated in 1908 and 1909.  The Cabinet formed a Committee presided by Prince Husein Kamel (the future Sultan of Egypt) to investigate the causes of that disaster and to discuss with farmers and merchants what role the Government can play to avoid the recurrence of such a catastrophy.  The early Nile flood of 1909 did not help either; it inundated large agricultural lands destroying much of the crops.  This calamitous situation forced the Government to exempt the farmers from paying their taxes and the lessees of Government lands from paying their rents.

-The Cabinet, for the first time in the history of Egypt, promulgated a law regulating the hiring of the under aged, both Egyptians and Foreigners, and limiting their working hours.

-The Cabinet negotiated a deal with the “SOCIETEE DES TRAMWAYS DU CAIRE” according to which the Company was authorized to establish more lines provided it would donate the amount of two hundred thousands pounds for the construction of a bridge linking Bulak to the island of Zamalek.

-In sympathy with Sir John Eldon Gorst‘s request, Butros Ghali publicly advocated the extension of the concession allocated by  Saeed Pasha, the ex-wali of Egypt and son of Mohammadi-Ali Pasha, the founding father of the reigning Khedivial Dynasty, to the Suez Canal Company (Societee Internationale Du Canal Maritime De Suez).(2)  This, plus reviving the Exceptional and Press Laws angered the Egyptians to the point of boiling when all knew that something was bound to happen.

(Source: Professor  Yonan Labiyb Rizq )

On February 21, 1910, a young pharmacist twenty-four years of age, Ibrahim Nassef Al-Wardani, shot and killed the Prime Minister (2).  During his trial, Al-Wardani stated that he killed Butros Pasha because of his long history of collaboration with the British occupiers particularly in the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan Condominium, in 1899, when Butros Pasha was Minister of Foreign Affairs, and his role as President of the Special Court that conducted the trial of the Denshway Villagers, above and beyond the re-imposition of the Special and Press Laws and his willingness to extend the Suez Canal concessionAl-Wardani (3) was condemned to death and executed.  Upon his condemnation, large demonstrations hit the streets screaming:  “long live Al-Wardani who killed Butros Pasha Al-Nosrani” (it even rhymes).  That most unfortunate verse opened a deep wound in the hearts of Egyptian Copts, a wound that would heal only in 1919, during the Saad Zaghloul Revolution, when the Cross and the Crescent rose hands in hands claiming the independence of Egypt.

(To be continued) 

Kamal K. Katba



(Source:  Muhammad Fariyd by Historian `Abd al-Rahman al-Raf``iy )


(3)  Butros Pasha Ghali was accused of favouring the British in the Denshway incident and on February 20, 1910.  Ghali was assassinated by Ibrahim Nassif al-Wardani, a young pharmacology graduate who had just returned from the United Kingdom. 




Theodore Roosevelt was a president whose political presence in the beginning of the 20th century altered the course of the United States. As he brought new power to the United states he  ushered it as the new superpower. He liked to quote a favorite proverb, "Speak softly and carry a big stick. . . . ".

The following below, is a verbatim record of one of his addresses delivered to Egyptian students at Cairo University,  while visiting Egypt in March of 1910. His arrogant and insensitive speeches infuriated many Egyptians and prompted wide and violent mass demonstrations against his visit.
Leaders of the Egyptian National Party (al-Hizb al-Wataniy) such as Muhammad Fariyd, `Abd  al-Rahman al-Raf`iy, Ahmad Wagdiy and Muhammad Tawfiyq al-`attar took it upon themselves to respond in kind to the misinformed US ex. president's diatribes..

The Arabic text, of their angry collective response, is included in appendix XII.



© Kamal Katba 2005


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