assassination of Butros Ghali Pasha had some hard repercussions
on the political life of Egypt. Khedive Abbas who had
built a strong relationship with the different nationalist movements and
particularly the National Party (AL HIZB AL WATANI) felt his position
threatened by the strength of the nationalists and decided to crack down
on those movements. Sir Eldon Gorst who replaced Lord Cromer
as Consul General in Egypt, with instructions from the British Government
to adopt a much more lenient policy than his predecessor, changed his policy
that stormy atmosphere the Khedive requested Mohammad Saeed Pasha,
who was Minister of Interior in the Ghali Cabinet, to form a new
in Alexandria on January 18, 1863, Saeed was the scion
of well off Turkish family. He studied law and, at his graduation, started
a successful career as a Prosecutor (WAKEEL NYABA) for the Mixed
Courts and the Judiciary. He was appointed as Minister of Interior,
in the Ghali Cabinet, then Prime Minister, on February 23, 1910,
after the assassination of his boss. Like a “weather cock”
He was thought to be a Nationalist sympathizer but he cracked down on their
movement during his first Prime Ministry, from February 23, 1910,
until his resignation on April 5, 1914. And, during his Second and
last Premiership from May 21, 1919, to November 20, 1919, when the
Revolution was in full swing. But, this did not stop him from
serving as Education and Justice Minister in the different
Zaghloul Pasha Cabinets in the nineteen twenties. Saeed Pasha
was the maternal grandfather of Safinaz Zulfiqar who became the
first wife of the late King Farouk and mother of his three daughters,
under the name of Queen Farida. He died on July 20, 1928.
Eldon Gorst died of cancer in 1911 and was replaced, as British
Consul General to Egypt, by Lord Herbert Kitchener with strict
order from London to “pacify” the Country, which did not
augur well with the Egyptian National Movements.
of the first move of the Saeed Cabinet was to reduce the what was
then thought as the inflammatory influence, on the students, of Saad
Zaghloul, who was Minister of Public Instruction, by removing to the
of Justice. As a Justice Minister, Zaghloul Pasha
vehemently opposed the Exceptional Laws depriving the Press of the freedom
it previously enjoyed, and, at the implementation of those Laws, he resigned
his Cabinet Post, on April 1, 1912.
firmly control the Nationalist Groups, the Saeed Cabinet cracked
down on the newspapers well known for their support and sympathy towards
the different Nationalist Groups. To achieve that objective, the
of Interior banned the publication of the “El- Alam” (the
flag) along with two other Newspapers for their support of the
assassination of Ghali Pasha. More Newspapers were later banned
for criticizing the Government ‘s interior policy.
subdue the political activities of the students and their increasing participation
in anti Government demonstrations, the Ministry of Education instituted
special attendance marks for the students at the Primary and Secondary
level. Students were sacked out of their schools if their attendance
marks did not reach the acceptable level.
was during that period that the relations between the Khedive and
the Colonial Power deteriorated drastically. This conflict was caused by
two Khedivial decrees that Lord Kitchener forced the Khedive
|1- The institution
of a new Ministry called “Wizaarat al-Awqaf” (Ministry of
Religious Affairs). Until that decree was issued the Khedivial
Palace ran this important source of “charity money” and, by conferring
it to a new Ministry, the Khedive lost a large source of income.
2- The institution
of a new Ministry called the Ministry of Agriculture thus separating
the Ministry of Public Works. The Colonial Power felt that
an independent Ministry of Agriculture could better control the
cultivation of cotton needed by the Lancashire textile industry.
To avoid the heat
of the summer months in Cairo, the Saeed Cabinet decided
to make Alexandria the summer Capital of Egypt and bought
a large property in Bulkley district of Alexandria for that
pacify the Country the Government adopted the following popular decisions:
1- A complete
reorganization of the Azhar University and the institution of a
new Faculty to train the judges in Islamic Law (Shari`a).
2- The establishment
of thirty Professors Chairs, at the Azhar University, which would
constitute the Committee of the Highest Ulemas (Hay'at Kibar
AL Ulama'). Eleven of those Chairs were given to the
Ulemas of the Hanafi School, nine Chairs to the Shafe’ School,
nine to the Maleki School and one to the Hanbali School.
All the students of the Azhar University were totally forbidden
from participating in demonstrations and/or working for or writing in any
newspaper or magazine.
3- On March
30, 1914, the Cabinet, in a great celebration attended by the Khedive,
placed the first stone towards building the Egyptian University
(years after it received the name of Fouad First University).
Th University was to be built on six “Feddans” graciously donated
by Princess Fatma, the daughter of Khedive Ismail (and aunt
of Khedive Abbas).
4- The Cabinet
ordered the formation of a Committee composed of parents who wish to send
their children to further their education overseas. This Committee
was to coordinate with the Ministry of Education the choice of Universities
and the supervision, by the Ministry, of their students children while
5- The Cabinet
decreed to help those small farmers owning less than five “feddans”
rescheduling their debts by forbidding the seizure of their land by the
lenders. Needless to say that the lenders, individuals or companies,
lobbied and fought hard, but without success, to stop the implementation
of that decree.
6- The Cabinet
prohibited the hunting of birds that feed on the worms that are destructive
7- The Cabinet
agreed on increasing the budget of the Ministry of Public Works
by three thousands one hundred and forty seven pounds for the purpose
of opening a garage for the maintenance of the Government vehicles.
It is interesting to note that the Egyptian Government had eighteen
cars and one motorcycle.
8- The Cabinet
decreed to make the Police Officers salaries equal to those of Army Officers.
9- The Cabinet
imposed, as from January 1, 1913, to charge on those Government
Employees who earn more than ten pounds a month, a rent for the Government
lodgings they occupy with the understanding that the rent would not exceed
ten percent of their salaries.
10- On January
10, 1914, the Khedive, while vacationing in Europe, signed
a decree, proposed by the Cabinet, instituting a Legislative Assembly to
replace the “ Laws Shura Assembly”. The new Assembly was to
be composed of sixty-six members to be elected from the Governorates
and seventeen members to be appointed by the Government, representing
all the classes of society, above and beyond all the members of the Cabinet.
The Assembly‘s role was to be strictly consultative and the Khedive
would have the right to dissolve it at the request of the Cabinet.
(To be continued)
Kamal K. Katba
soldiers in desert helmets line up for inspection in Cairo, circa 1911