Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

How Long Have Egyptians Wanted Freedom?

with one comment

by Weiner

With all that is going on in Egypt right now, I thought I would share a little gem I plucked from the Alain Locke Papers at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. It’s a letter from Egyptian Oxford student Hamed El Alaily to his friend, the African American Rhodes Scholar Alain Locke. Both were members of the Oxford Cosmpolitan Club. El Alaily wrote the letter to Locke sometime after the assassination of Egypt’s Prime Minister Boutros Ghali, a Coptic Christian (pictured below), in 1910. Here it is:

Dear Lock [sic]. The day at last have [sic] come. A nobler man man than Digla [sic?] has murdered the traitor Egypt’s Prime Minister. My beloved country is in revolt and is on the glorious path for freedom. Goodbye my friend for I am going to offer my humble life to the glorious cause. Remember your friend and pray for me and for my country. I have great hope in my people. We shall soon do wonders and exterminate tyranny from the golden valley of the Nile. Keep the motive of my departure secret and keep this historic letter. Yours for freedom, H. El Alaily.

He also wrote on one side of the letter:

I suppose you will read tomorrow the glorious news. Hamed El Alaily.

I’m not sure what, if anything, this tells us about the situation in Egypt today, except to say that at least some Egyptians have been craving freedom for a very long time. What freedom meant to El Elaily and Locke, and what it means to the current citizens of Egypt, is of course up for debate.

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Written by David Weinfeld

January 28, 2011 at 17:30

One Response

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  1. […] Friedman’s take: “they did it.” Inspired by the example of Tunisia, having been clamoring for freedom for over a century if not more, the people of Egypt brought the autocratic regime down. These were people from all […]


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