Allenby Effigies

453From Youm7 and Egyptian Chronicles (see video!) I am reminded today of Port Said’s tradition of burning effigies of hated political figures on Sham el-Nassim, a spring festival the Monday after Easter celebrated as a national holiday in Egypt. The tradition began in the early ’20s when residents burned an effigy of the British colonial military governor of Egypt Field Marshal Lord Edmund Allenby. The years 1914 to 1923 were the high mark of direct British colonial control of Egypt, a protectorate in which British Martial Law allowed the army to expropriate food while Egyptians starved and forcibly draft Egyptians for labor as far away as the trenches of Belgium.

Allenby commanded the British army to victory over the Ottoman Empire in Syria in the First World War, and the British Foreign Office brought him in as a non-partisan high commissioner to stem internal arguments and disagreements over governing Egypt after the 1919 Revolution against its misrule. Ultimately, he helped settle the form of government in Egypt for the following 30 years: a unilateral announcement of Egyptian independence leading to a neocolonial constitutional monarchy. He earned his opprobrium.

This year, the figures crafted for the bonfire include the Qatari royal family (pictured above), Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, both of whom support the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood now in the political wilderness, as well as regular targets Obama and Netanyahu. Qatar is also home of Al-Jazeera, the news organization most hated by the government and feloul (pro-regime-niks) for its sympathy to the Muslim Brotherhood; three of its journalists have been awaiting trial since December for slandering Egypt. The signs above ridicule the dynastic struggles in Qatar in which the current 33-year old Emir Tamim replaced his still young father Hamad last year, who had in turn made a coup on his father Khalifa in 1995. The sign on the right reads “I slid my father out on a banana.” Because it’s not like individuals appointed to their position by predecessors have ever betrayed their bosses and taken over in Egypt, right? Egyptian bananas are plentiful this time of year…


About ericschewe

PhD, History. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
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1 Response to Allenby Effigies

  1. me want vids of the burnings themselves

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