The story of our namesake: Saʿd Zaghlūl Pasha Ibn Ibrāhīm
September 10, 2019
At Pasha, we’re passionate supporters of civil disobedience, because we know that without it, we wouldn’t be here.
If you’ve followed along on our social media channels over the past few months, we’ve been highlighting individuals that have made pronounced and lasting change in the world through defiant acts of civil disobedience. The name of our brand house was inspired by one such individual, whose political activism in Egypt inspired a national rebellion that eventually resulted in the country’s independence from Britain. It’s also regarded by many as one of the earliest successful examples of civil disobedience.
Saʿd Zaghlūl Pasha ibn Ibrāhīm was an Egyptian statesman and patriot known best for his roles as the leader and founder of the Wafd party, for which he was arrested, and as one of the men behind the nationalist movement that took place at the end of World War I.
In 1906, the year Zaghlūl was appointed head of the ministry of education, nationalism in Egypt was very much on the rise. During his six-year tenure as the minister of education and later the minister of justice, Zaghlūl had served on governments that were willing to cooperate and work with British occupiers, an act some nationalists saw as traitorous—but after resigning from his role as minister of justice in 1912 and being elected to the Legislative Assembly, his harsh criticisms against the government and British occupation put him back in the nationalists’ favour.
Everything changed when the war broke out in 1914: Egypt was declared a British protectorate, its viceroy was removed, and martial law was declared, while the Legislative Assembly Zaghlūl had been vice president of was completely dissolved. Personal freedoms were restricted, citizens were subject to inflation, and men were conscripted while Egyptians feared that Britain would turn their country from a protectorate into a colony.
During the war, political activity had ceased, but Zaghlūl and other former members of the assembly had kept the nationalist movement alive by quietly forming activist groups throughout the country. Just two days after World War I ended, he and two associates told the British high commissioner that they, and not the British government, were the representatives of the Egyptian people.
They insisted the British abolish the protectorate and replace it with a treaty of alliance, and were willing to travel to London to make it happen. But the High Commissioner refused, the activist groups that Zaghlūl had organized took to the streets. Disorder continued for months, and intensified when he was arrested and deported. After his release, the newly-appointed high commissioner agreed it was the best path to calming the rebellion.
In late 1919, a British colonial secretary was sent to Egypt to make sense of the countries’ tense relationship. His mission was boycotted by Zaghlūl, who instead decided to head to London in 1920 to make agreements on his own terms. In a series of meetings, the colonial secretary unofficially agreed that a treaty alliance could be put in place of the protectorate. Instead, Zaghlūl refused to sign any agreements and returning home to Egypt. Following his visit, the colonial secretary authored a report recommending that Britain negotiate a treaty with Egypt, as Zaghlūl had suggested during their visit.
After a rival of Zaghlūl’s in Egypt formed a government that was more willing than he to work with the British, he vetoed their efforts every step of the way. When his rival resigned, Zaghlūl brought his supports together and spoke to them in the streets, successfully preventing a new government from forming. At this point, the new high commissioner recognized the man’s influence over Egypt and Zaghlūl was deported for a second time, though he also proceeded to grant limited independence to Egypt in 1922.
In Zaghlūl’s absence, new parties formed that were more open to cooperating with the colonial government. Though Zaghlūl was out of country, the movement he had created persisted, and when he was released and returned to Egypt to participate in the country’s first election under the new constitution, which had been implemented in 1923, his party won by a vast majority, making him Prime Minister in January 1924.
Through sheer determination and an unwavering commitment to the Egyptian people, Zaghlūl was able to successfully stand up to the British government and help his own party take steps towards independence, making him a national hero. Not only did he bring independence to Egypt from colonial rule without violence, he did it by lifting up and equalizing the Egyptian people, including women who had been kept out of politics and social life. His wife Safiya was not only the first Egyptian woman to appear in public without her face covered, she was a leader in her own right. Her input was even required to choose his successor, and she is today known as the Mother of Egypt.
This passion, resilience, inclusion, and uncompromising strength are qualities we hope to personify as we stand up for Canada’s craft cannabis growers, who deserve to be welcomed and supported into this burgeoning industry.
Just as Zaghlūl stood by his people in the face of opposition, we intend to put our best foot forward for the craft growers who have for years put their livelihoods on the lines for the sake of patients and consumers.