Social Revolutions Beyond the Volga: Egypt and Ireland

Age of Revolutions

By Aidan Beatty

In 1919, a “Revolution” broke out in Egypt; since 1882, Britain had held an outsized role in Egyptian affairs but never directly ruled the country, instead preferring to use local royalty as intermediaries.  In the “Wilsonian moment”[1] after 1918, Egyptian nationalists believed that a liberation from British control was at hand.  A delegation (Wafd) was formed, under the leadership of Sa’ad Zaghloul (1859-1927), which would travel to the Paris Peace Conference to present Egypt’s demands for self-determination to the world.  The refusal of the British governor of Egypt to allow the Wafd’s travel request fomented a series of demonstrations into the following year both in Cairo and elsewhere; the demonstrations became collectively known as the Egyptian Revolution, a key moment in modern Egyptian history and, indeed, the backdrop for perhaps the greatest work of modern Egyptian literature, Naguib Mahfouz’ Cairo Trilogy. 

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