ALTHOUGH TODAY’S Downtown Cairo Is a modern bustle of people, cars, banks, and theaters, underneath all that is a tribute to some of Egypt’s earliest and most prominent nationalist leaders. From Midan Saad Zaghloul at the Qasr El-Nil Bridge to Mohammed Farid’s statue at Ezbekiah Gardens, we gives you a list of historical statues to follow through Downtown Cairo, commemorating the men who challenged the British Empire in the early twentieth century.
JULY 1859 – AUGUST 1927 Prime Minister and founder of the Wafd Party; leader of the nationalist movement. Arrested and jailed several times for fomenting protests against the British Protectorate, Zaghloul and several others were exiled to Malta in March 1919. In events now known as the 1919 Revolution, an outraged populace rioted against his exile, forcing the British to let him return. He continued to lead protests and was deported once more in 1921, but the nationalists had gained momentum and the protectorate officially ended in 1922. Zaghloul was elected prime minister in 1924, but held the post for just 11 months, resigning in protest of British demands on the government.
Statue: The government contracted sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar (1891 – March 1934) in 1930 to construct two statues of Saad Zaghloul, one in Alexandria and the other in front of Cairo’s Opera House Complex at the end of Qasr El-Nil Bridge.
Talaat Harb Pasha
NOVEMBER 25, 1867 – AUGUST 23, 1941
Economist, nationalist, lawyer, and founder of Banque Misr (The Bank of Egypt) and its group of companies.
an ardent nationalist, Harb called for economic freedom from colonial investments and was a major force behind the nation’s industrialization in the twentieth-century, writing extensively on the issue of economic reform. His brainchild was Banque Misr, created to foster Egyptian economic independence, which by the 1952 Revolution had grown to be one of the leading financial establishments. In 1980, then-President Anwar Sadat celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of Banque Misr by awarding Talaat Harb a posthumous Nile Collar – the highest Egyptian civilian decoration.
Statue: The five-meter bronze statue in Midan Talaat Harb, on the street of the same name, was sculpted by Fathi Mahmoud and erected in March 1964.
Nationalist leader, writer, and lawyer.
Farid first worked as a lawyer for the Egyptian government but was dismissed after backing Sheikh Ali Yusuf, a popular newspaper editor who was tried for publishing secret telegrams taken from the War Ministry. Farid was the main political and financial supporter of Mustafa Kamil, and after a falling out with Yusuf, Farid used his own funds to launch Kamil’s newspaper, Al-Liwa. After Kamil’s death in 1908, Farid became head of the Nationalist Party despite opposition from Kamil’s family; his popularity dwindled with his attacks on the Copts and his support for Turkey. The 1910 assassination of the Coptic Prime Minister Boutros Ghali by Nationalist Party member Ibrahim Wardani turned the public against the party; in 1912, Farid left the country after being sentenced to six months imprisonment for ‘publishing seditious material. His support of the Axis cause during World War I was not a popular stance, and when Saad Zaghloul revived the nationalist cause with the Wafd Party in 1918, Farid was deliberately uninvited. He died in exile in Berlin the following year.
Statue: Located in Ezbekiah Garden, the statue of Mohammed Farid Pasha was sculpted by Mansour Farag.
AUGUST 14, 1874 – February 10, 1908
Journalist and leader of the modern national alist movement. Kamil was the most charismatic nationalist figure until Saad Zghloul’s rise post-World War One. Anti-British from the start, Kamil was originally pro-palace working closely with Khedive Abbas and Ali Yusuf, editor of the newspaper Al-Muayyad (The Supported One). Relations turned sour and Kamil founded his own paper, Al-Liwa (The Standard) with Mohamed Farid.Kamil also founded the Nationalist party in December 1907, two months before his death.
Statue: Sculpted by Leopold Savine with atelier Rene Fulda, the 2.8 meter tall bronze statue of Mustafa Kamil was first displayed at the May 1910 Paris exhibition of fine Arts. It wasn’t unveiled in Egypt until May 1940, after professors at Cairo and Al_Azhar universities rallied the government. King Farouk himself unveiled the statue, which now stands in Mustafa Kamil Square off of Qasr El-Nil and Mohammed Farid Street