Mustafa Kamil

MUSTAFA KAMIL (1874-1908)

A nationalist party leader. He studied law at the Khedivial School of Law and later at Toulouse in France, where he received a degree in 1894. His political interests and his intention to fight the British occupation started at an early age. In 1890 he founded a nationalist literary society and followed that by publishing his articles in the prominent Egyptian newspapers of that time.

Mustafa Kamil’s political career may be divided into three stages. The first stage covered the period between 1894 and 1900, during which he founded the clandestine Nationalist party and issued his famous paper Al-Liwa’.

The second stage was between the years 1900 and 1904, when he concentrated on making the Egyptian question an international one, in order to maneuver the European powers, mainly France, to put pressure on England to force it to withdraw from Egypt.

During the third stage, he concentrated on escalating internal resistance to Britain as revealed by the crisis that arose between the Ottoman and British empires in 1906 over Taba on the Gulf of Aqaba. He incited Islamic reactions in Egypt against the British occupation and to the Dinshway incident, when the British resorted to particularly brutal measures in dealing with the fellahin of that village. He exploited the occasion to inflame Egyptian and European feelings regarding these measures. This stage ended with the formation of the Nationalist Party on 22 October 1907. Mustafa Kamil died shortly afterward, in February 1908.

Most Copts refused to join the political movement initiated by Mustafa Kamil because they resented its religious aspect and the call to Pan-Islamism adopted by Mustafa Kamil. The small number of Copts who joined his party is evident from the fact that of the thirty members who constituted the administrative committee, only one was a Copt, WISSA WASSEF, while out of the 113 founders of the other big party, Hizb al-Ummah (NATION’S PARTY), fourteen were Copts.

However, toward the end of his life, Mustafa Kamil tried to create a society uniting Copts and Muslims, based on pure Egyptian sentiment. The motto of its adherents was Egyptians First of All. Even so, the Copts hesitated to join the Nationalist party, on account of the reasons mentioned and on account of Mustafa Kamil’s connection with the Ottoman empire.

YUNAN LABIB RIZQ

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