YOUTH OF EGYPT (al-Shabibah al-Misriyyah)
A clandestine society formed in Alexandria toward the end of Khedive Isma’il’s rule (1863-1879), under the influence of the reformer Jamal al- Afghani. The society’s original members were said to have been representative of the cream of the youth of Alexandria’s Christian and Jewish families.
Conflicting accounts are given of the person who sponsored the society. While some claim it was Sharif Pasha, others say it was Prince ‘Abbas Halim.
The society came into the open early in September 1879 when a reform scheme calling for a secular state was submitted to Khedive Tawfiq, whom some members considered an advocate of reform and expected much of. The society’s scheme advocated the distribution of power through the maintenance of equality before the law, all Egyptians qualifying for government employment without any discrimination as to religion or origin.
Furthermore, the scheme contained constitutional and other demands regarding education, political rights, individual freedoms, freedom of the press, and freedom of the people to elect their deputies. The scheme spelled out the executive, the judicial, and the legislative power.
A bilingual newspaper called La Jeune Egypte was put out by the society for the prime purpose of advocating internal political reforms. The newspaper was mostly in French; the Arabic was translated from the French text. Subjected to the oppressive policies of Riyad Pasha, the newspaper was eventually confiscated and disappeared. This led to the disappearance of the society itself.
- Salim Naqqash. Misr lil-Misriyyn, 9 vols. Alexandria, 1886.
- Scholch, A. Egypt for the Egyptians: The Socio-Political Crisis in Egypt, 1878-1882. London, 1981.
- Tahir al-Tanahi, ed. Mudhakkirat al-Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abdu. Cairo, 1963.