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Saad Zaghlul


Saad Zaghlul

Saad Zaghloul
سعد زغلول
Prime Minister of Egypt
In office
26 January 1924 – 24 November 1924
Monarch Fuad I
Preceded by Abdel Fattah Yahya Ibrahim Pasha
Succeeded by Ahmad Ziwar Pasha
Head of Ministry of Education
In office
28 October 1906 – 23 February 1910
Monarch Abbas II
Minister of Justice
In office
Monarch Abbas II
Personal details
Born 1859
Ibyana, Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate, Egypt
Died August 23, 1927(1927-08-23) (aged 68)
Cairo, Egypt
Political party Wafd Party
Religion Islam

Saad Zaghloul (Arabic: سعد زغلول‎; also: Saad Zaghlûl, Sa'd Zaghloul Pasha ibn Ibrahim) (1859 – August 23, 1927) was an Egyptian revolutionary, and statesman. He served as Prime Minister of Egypt from January 26, 1924 to November 24, 1924.

Education, activism and exile

Zaghloul was born in Ibyana village in the Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate of Egypt's Nile Delta. For his post-secondary education, he attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo. In the 1880s, he became politically active, for which he was arrested.

Rise in the bureaucracy

Upon his release from prison, he practiced law and distinguished himself; amassed some independent means, which enabled him to participate in Egyptian politics, then dominated by the struggle-moderate and extreme—against British occupation; and effected useful and permanent links with different factions of Egyptian nationalists. He became close to Princess Nazli Fazl, and his contacts with the Egyptian upper class led to his marriage to the daughter of the Egyptian prime minister Mustafa Pasha Fahmi, whose friendship with Lord Cromer, then the effective British ruler of Egypt, accounts in part for the eventual acceptability of Zaghloul to the British occupation. In succession Zaghloul was appointed judge, minister of education (1906–1908), minister of justice (1910–1912); in 1913 he became vice president of the Legislative Assembly.

In all his ministerial positions Zaghloul undertook certain measures of reform that were acceptable to both Egyptian nationalists and the British occupation. Throughout this period, he kept himself outside extreme Egyptian nationalist factions, and though he was acceptable to the British occupation, he was not thereby compromised in the eyes of his Egyptian compatriots. The relationship between Britain and Egypt continued to deteriorate during and after World War I.


Zaghloul became increasingly active in nationalist movements, and in 1919 he led an official Egyptian delegation (or wafd, the name of the political party he would later form) to the Paris Peace Conference demanding that the United Kingdom formally recognise the independence and unity of Egypt and Sudan (which had been united as one country under Muhammad Ali Pasha). Britain had occupied the country in 1882, and declared it a protectorate at the outbreak of the First World War. Though Egypt and Sudan had its own sultan, parliament, and armed forces, it had effectively been under British rule for the duration of the occupation.

The British in turn demanded that Zaghloul end his political agitation. When he refused, they exiled him to Malta, and later to the Seychelles. They had employed a similar tactic against Egyptian nationalist leader Ahmed Orabi in 1882, whom they exiled to Ceylon. At the time of Zaghloul's arrival in the Seychelles, a number of other prominent anti-imperialist leaders were also exiled there, including Mohamoud Ali Shire, the 20th Sultan of the Somali Warsangali Sultanate, with whom Zaghloul would soon develop a rapport.[1]

Political history

Zaghloul's absence caused disturbances in Egypt, ultimately leading to the Egyptian Revolution of 1919.[2] Upon his return from exile, Zaghloul led the Egyptian nationalist forces. The elections of January 12, 1924 gave the Wafd Party an overwhelming majority, and two weeks later, Zaghloul formed the first Wafdist government. As P. J. Vatikiotis writes in The History of Modern Egypt (4th ed., pp. 279 ff.):

The masses considered Zaghloul their national leader, the za'im al-umma, the uncompromising national hero. His opponents were equally discredited as compromisers in the eyes of the masses. Yet he also had finally come to power partly because he had compromised with the palace group and implicitly accepted the conditions governing the safeguarding of British interests in Egypt.

Following the assassination on November 19, 1924 of Sir Lee Stack, the Sirdar and Governor-General of the Sudan, and subsequent British demands which Zaghloul felt to be unacceptable, Zaghloul resigned. He returned to government in 1926 until his death in 1927.


Zaghloul's wife, Zafiya Zahlul, was the daughter of Mustafa Fahmi Pasha, the Egyptian cabinet minister and two-time Prime Minister of Egypt.[3] A feminist and revolutionary, she was also active in politics.


  • 1857 July: Born into a middle-class peasant family in Ibaynah in the Nile delta.

Young years: Is educated at the Muslim University of Al-Azhar in Cairo, as well as at the Egyptian School of Law.

  • 1892: Appointed judge at the Court of Appeal
  • 1895: Marries the daughter of the Prime minister of Egypt, Mustafa Pasha Fatmi.
  • 1906: Becomes head of the Ministry of Education.

— Partakes in the establishment of Hizbu l-Ummah, which was a moderate group in a time when more and more Egyptians claimed to reveive their independence from the British.

  • 1910: Zaghloul appointed Minister of justice.
  • 1912: Resigns from the post as Minister of justice after a disagreement with khedive Abbas Hilmi 2.
  • 1912: Is elected to the Legislative Assembly.
  • 1913: Is appointed Vice-president of the Legislative Assembly, a position he uses to criticise the government.
  • 1914-18: During World War I, Zaghloul and many members from the old Legislative Assembly form activist groups all over Egypt. The World War I leads to much hardship on the Egyptian population, thanks to many British restrictions.
  • 1918 November 13: With the end of World War I, Zaghloul and two other former members from the Legislative Assembly calls upon the British high commissioner, asking for the abolishment of the protectorate. They also ask to be representatives for Egypt in the peace negotiations after the war. These demands are refused, and Zaghloul's supporters, a group now known as Wafd, instigate disorder all over the country.
  • 1919 March: Zaghloul and three other members of Wafd are deported to Malta. Zaghloul is soon released after that General Edmund Allenby takes over as high commissioner of Egypt. He travels to Paris, France in an attempt to present his version of Egypt's case to representatives of the Allied countries, but without much success.
  • 1920: Zaghloul has several meetings with the British colonial secretary, Lord Milner. They reach an understanding, but Zaghloul is uncertain of how the Egyptians will see him if he forges an agreement with the British, so he withdraws.

— Zaghloul returns to Egypt, and is welcomed as a national hero.

  • 1921: Zaghloul uses his supporters to hinder the establishment of a British-friendly government. Allenby responds by deporting Zaghloul to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.
  • 1922 February: Egypt receives limited independence, according to Lord Milner's recommendations, as these were designed through the talks with Zaghloul.
  • 1923: Zaghloul is allowed to return to Egypt.
  • 1924 February: Zaghloul becomes Prime minister after that Wafd wins 90% of the parliament seats in elections.

— Zaghloul experiences that not even he is able to stop demonstrations and riots among Egyptians. — November: After that the British commander in chief over the Egyptian army is killed, Zaghloul is forced to leave office.

  • 1926: Zaghloul becomes president of the parliament, and from this position he is able to control the actions of extreme nationalists.
  • 1927 August 23: Zaghloul dies in Cairo.

See also


Further reading

  • Lord Cromer, Modern Egypt (2 vols., 1908)
  • Jamal M. Ahmed, The Intellectual Origins of Egyptian Nationalism (1960)
  • Albert H. Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939 (1962)
  • Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid, Egypt and Cromer: A Study in Anglo-Egyptian Relations (1968)

External links

  • : "The bitter harvest" An account of the 1924 assassination in Cairo of Sir Oliver (Lee) Stack and its consequences for Egypt and Zaghloul
  • A 1926 story about Zaghloul's attempt to return to power
Political offices
Preceded by
Yehya Ibrahim Pasha
Prime Minister of Egypt
Succeeded by
Ahmad Ziwar Pasha

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