The 1919 Revolution in the Eyes of Modern and Contemporary Egyptian Theatre Directors: A Reflection of a Generation Gap

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Many consecutive demonstrations, initiated by law school students, covered Cairo’s streets. As workers, lawyers, Egyptian women and artists followed, the British forces retreated from their decision. They allowed Zaghloul and his companions to return home and represent Egypt at the Versailles Conference. Saad Zaghloul was considered the official spokesman of the revolutionaries and the two major national parties at that time, Al-Wafd and Al- Hezib Al-watany. As a result, a long series of evasive negotiations took place between Zaghloul and the British occupiers. The main two enquires during those negotiations were giving Egypt an absolute independence and letting the Egyptians form their own constitution.

A quick glance tells us who was the real winner on these debates. Of course, the winner was the British forces. During such negotiations, the British continued arresting the active revolutionaries, the youth in particular, while keeping the others calm until the politicians reached the end of their conversations. Not to mention, the golden opportunity that the British had as they extended their oppressive laws, for instance the Anti-Demonstration Law and the Martial Law[3], both issued in 1914 during World War I, to suppress the resistant voices whether from the public or from the journalists and artists. Such facts are documented in many books and are very well-known among Egyptian intellectuals, students and historians. Here a question arises: how could the Egyptians accept such a position? They suffered a lot under the British authority’s domination, particularly, during the years of World War I.

Such an enigma could be solved by unfolding the untold history. In 31 August 1914, only twenty-seven days after the United Kingdom’s decision to join World War I, wild protests led by workers started in Alexandria. And in less than five days the angry protests were echoed in Cairo. During the war, being in a desperate need for reinforcements, the British demanded facilities, workers, food and cotton to fortify themselves from Egypt.[4] In return they promised the Egyptians that after the war ended, Egypt would enjoy its independence. The Egyptians were forced to fulfill all the British requests. As a result, the Egyptians suffered from a deterioration in all aspects of their economy, especially the workers and peasants.

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