The Intellectual Origins of Egyptian Nationalism

By Jamal Mohammed Ahmed | Go to book overview

IV
Political Parties

BEFORE 1907 a number of small and short-lived political groups had come into existence, but in that year and the last quarter of it three parties were suddenly created which were to dominate political life during the period until the outbreak of the First World War. They were the People's party (Umma), the Constitutional Reform party, and the Nationalist party. The immediate cause of the sudden emergence of these three parties was the once-famous Aqaba incident of June 1906: the dispute which arose between the Ottoman Government and the British authorities in Egypt over a village on the frontier which separated Egypt from the main body of the Ottoman Empire. Public opinion in Egypt was aroused and divided by this incident. Some supported the Ottoman Government out of loyalty to the Sultan, who was still suzerain of Egypt even though he no longer exercised his rights; others believed that no part of Egyptian territory should be ceded to the Sultan, because sooner or later Egypt was bound to become independent of both England and Turkey. The former group was probably the stronger. As at the time of Fashoda, the majority of Egyptians were prepared to sacrifice their own interests in order to express their resentment of the British occupation. The disciples of Abdu were alarmed at this self-destructive intransigence and summoned a meeting of those who thought like them; from this meeting sprang, after an interval, the foundation of the People's party, and the other two came into existence a few weeks later.

This rapid creation of political groups would not, however, have been possible had there not already been a ferment of political ideas. During the preceding years five factors above all had contributed to bring about this ferment: the growth of pan-Islamic feeling, the Dinshawai incident,1 the economic

____________________
1
See below, p. 62.

-58-

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The Intellectual Origins of Egyptian Nationalism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknoledgments vi
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • I - Introduction 1
  • II - Islamic Liberalism 35
  • III - The Girondists of Egypt 44
  • IV - Political Parties 58
  • VI - Ahmad Lutfi Al-Sayyid 85
  • Postscript 113
  • Select Bibliography 128
  • Index 133
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