Science and Politics in Egypt

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Science and
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Science and Politics in Egypt

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Science and Politics in Egypt

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Science and
Politics in Egypt
A Life’s Journey

Rushdi Said

The American University in Cairo Press
Cairo - New York

Science and Politics in Egypt

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The American University in Cairo Press
113 Sharia Kasr el Aini, Cairo, Egypt
420 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
www.aucpress.com
Copyright © 2004 by Rushdi Said
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without the prior permission of the publisher.
Dar el Kutub No. 7951/04
ISBN 977 424 861 9
Designed by Fatiha Bouzidi/AUC Press Design Center
Printed in Egypt

Science and Politics in Egypt

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Dedicated to my grandchildren
Nadia, Mariam, and Adam Said,
and Nefret, Ramsey, and Isis Hanna
So that they may know how they came to be born
and raised in the United States

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1941–1978 The Beginnings of My Practical Life The University The Mining Organization The Geological Survey and Mining Authority Assessing the Ore Deposits Toward a New Mining Industry Exiting Public Office 47 47 51 73 81 99 101 121 4 Ventures in Politics.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page vii Contents Illustrations Preface ix xi 1 Roots The Search for Roots 1 12 2 The Formative Years Events That Shaped My Formative Years The 1923 Constitution and the Wafd Party World War II and the Revolution of 1952 The Rise of the Religious Right in Egypt 21 31 31 39 41 3 Ventures in Science: My Years at the University and the Mining Organization. 1961–1976 My Years in Parliament The Interparliamentary Union 125 132 145 .

1968–1981 Retreating to the Desert The Crisis of 1981 167 182 190 6 My Life as an Egyptian American. 1981–2003 New World 203 207 Chronological Table of Events Index 221 229 .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page viii The General Secretariat of the Arab Socialist Union The Political Establishment 152 162 5 Years of Hope and Despair.

Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page ix Illustrations Between pages 128 and 129 The author’s mother at her graduation. 1911 The cover of al-Musawwar magazine. Abu Tartur plateau. 2003 In front of the auditorium named after the author. Massachusetts. 1978 Relaxing on the Congress lawn. 1996 Celebrating the author’s eightieth birthday. 1971 At the end of the 1974 season at Bir Tarfawi At the Interparliamentary Conference. 1957 At the Industrial Fair. 2004 . 1949 In front of the Sphinx. Faculty of Science. Washington DC. 1974 With Coy Squyres at a reception in 1977 Professor Scholz conferring the Nachtigal Medal. 1986 The author’s house in Kharga Oasis. Faculty of Science. 1969 In front of the experimental mine. 3 September 1926 Ya‘qub Fam. 1937 Students and faculty of the Geology Department. 1939 Permit issued by Egyptian Intelligence to the author in 1941 to visit Gebel Muqattam The class of the marine biological lab. Tokyo. Woods Hole. 1999 With Wadad. 1951 In the laboratory. June 1899 The author’s father. Cairo University.

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recorded in the minutes of the board meetings and committees on which I sat. the intelligent and engaged partner in the full sense of the word. Many of these documents and personal papers. and business associates. whose name does not appear in this autobiography except for a mere sixteen lines in which I relate the story of our first meeting some fifty-five years ago in Cambridge. They were lost during the many moves I had to make in the latter years of my life. and the impressions that they left on me.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page xi Preface T his is the English edition of my autobiography. Wadad deserves a bigger place in this autobiography. I wrote these from memory without resorting to any written diary. Massachusetts. This autobiography recounts some of the events and experiences of my life. and it was on her request that I did not elaborate on the most important role she has played in shaping my life and in giving me the support that I badly needed many a time. are no longer in my possession. the comforting soul. Many of the impressions included in this book have previously been expressed in my writings and speeches. the wise and loving wife. and articulated in the extensive correspondence that I conducted over the years with my colleagues. friends. since I have never kept one. She has been a source of inspiration. I also would like to add a word of thanks to my son Kareem and my daughter Sawsan who were keen to see this autobiogra- PREFACE | xi . and the devoted mother. where we were studying at Harvard and Radcliffe. a work that was originally written in Arabic and published on the occasion of my eightieth birthday in the year 2000. This autobiography would not have been possible without the support of my wife Wadad. my reaction to them. however.

the bulk of the autobiography deals with my work in Egypt in the fields of science and politics. I left no pertinent subject untouched. their very existence is denied and discussing them is considered inappropriate and in bad taste. for I have no longer any interests to protect or ambitions to aspire to. Kareem has helped in the translation of many of its chapters. In this autobiography the reader will become aware of some of the hurdles that prevent Egypt from achieving this goal. I lived in Egypt most of my mature life. In 2003 the autobiography was chosen by the Egyptian Book Authority to be reprinted in a paperback edition. It attracted the attention of many commentators. the American Association of Petroleum Geologists found no better citation for the Pioneer Award that it bestowed upon me than the mention of my “contributions to the xii | PREFACE . and moved to the United States to make it my home late in life and under circumstances that the reader will see were not of my own making. including those that refer to the problems that plague Egyptian society and that tradition and custom have rendered taboo and off limits. I love Egypt and have lived all my life dreaming of seeing it occupy a position that is worthy of its glorious history and befitting its unique human and natural potential. In going against this tradition I feel that I have not only made this autobiography as candid as I could but have also brought to the fore some of the problems that need to be the subject of public debate. was reviewed extensively in the press and was the subject of at least two extensive television programs that were aired many times. This is the work in which I feel I have made my most important contributions and for which I will most likely be remembered. Apart from the chapters that deal with my roots and formative years.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page xii phy translated into English. This aspect may explain why this autobiography was met with great enthusiasm when it first appeared in Arabic. At this age I can afford to handle these problems with less discretion. As late as this year (2003). Despite the fact that these are issues that affect the lives of everyone. In writing this autobiography at the ripe age of eighty I felt free to describe and interpret the events that I have lived through as candidly as I could.

It also embarked on an industrialization program that allowed Egypt to have a diversified economy and to create a cadre of entrepreneurs. They were years of great tension but also of a relative peace that was maintained by the fear of annihilation that the two superpowers harbored should the weapons of mass destruction that they had developed and amassed during and immediately after the war be used. engineers. My ventures in science and politics in Egypt took place during the three and a half decades that followed the end of World War II in 1945. managers. during which I was fully engaged in my own private work as an international consultant. and scientists to manage it. After a few years of my stay in the United States. It built the Aswan High Dam that regulated the waters of the Nile and thereby converted Egypt into a modern nation that no longer had to live with the vagaries of the river.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page xiii geology of Egypt and the Middle East. My association with this program enabled me to do things that only my generation can boast of having had the chance to do. During the thirty-year period that followed the end of World War II Egypt made use of this situation and chose the path of non-alignment. The last chapter of this autobiography deals with that stage of my life and includes my observations on the status of the Egyptian-American community and also on the nature of the complex Egyptian-American relationships. my ties to Egypt continue. I planned and supervised the opening of new mines. It was able to change its landscape and embark on an ambitious program of development. These were the years of the Cold War that raged between the two superpowers that emerged after the end of the war. I came back to direct the bulk of my work to Egypt and the Middle East region. which opened vast areas of application in the field of petroleum geology.” Despite the fact that I have spent well over a quarter of my life as a private citizen in the United States. In addition to having had the opportunity of building up a new school of research in the university and reorganizing a scientific institution. fearing the high floods that could inundate its land or the low floods that could cause scarcity in its water supply. During these years there was room for third world countries to maneuver and to work in a somewhat independent or “non-aligned” way. the lay- PREFACE | xiii .

It was almost impossible to bring any business project to fruition without resorting to corrupt practices or using someone in power for mediation. This stifled the develop- xiv | PREFACE . This shift was undertaken in a way that did not benefit Egypt. My impressions of this phase of Egypt’s history are quite negative. the building of a new harbor on the Red Sea.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page xiv ing down of railway lines. Throughout my mature years living in Egypt. Among other restrictions that the government enforced and that were contrary to the aspirations of the rising middle class was the denial of the right of the people to assemble freely. all were appointed by a government decree through a process that was not transparent. This episode of Egypt’s history of non-alignment suffered a blow with the defeat of the Arab armies in the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six Day War. as the reader will find out in the course of reading. The system clung to its old methods of holding to the reins of power and not allowing any participation on the part of the public in running its own affairs. This led to the rise of an inefficient system of government that was run for the benefit of a few. The 1970s saw the neglect and final dissolution of the industrialization program that Egypt had embarked upon. All these posts. and the rise of a new class of corrupt beneficiaries. when the new leadership of Egypt decided to shift course and part from the nonalignment policy. were not decided by popular vote. It was unfortunate that the system did not develop into a more open form of government to respond to the aspirations of the vibrant new middle class that arose as a result of the industrialization program that the country had undertaken. The appointed functionaries were accountable only to those who had appointed them and owed nothing to the people. the managing of a business was extremely difficult. from the mayor of the village to the prime minister. and many other undertakings. The shift was also marked by the government’s adoption of a policy that led to the introduction of religion in politics. the system of government was repressive in the main. the construction of housing projects. Under such a system. It did not allow the people to decide who should occupy any of the public posts that affected their lives. It was terminated altogether after the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

One topic. national unity was a goal that every member of society. These incidents tarnished the image of Egypt and cast doubt on the ability of the government to abide by the norms of a civilized society. other consequences include the graduation of inept generations of professionals who will not be able to run the daily affairs of the country with any efficiency. The Coptic problem is a national problem that concerns every Egyptian. which holds great danger for the future of Egypt. This situation. The big crack in national unity is only one disastrous result of that educational system. Its ultimate solution lies in the revival of the principles of tolerance that Egypt has lived by throughout its modern history and in the reform of its educational system that has been hijacked by ignorant zealots. However. As a member of this minority this issue had haunted me since my return from my mission of study abroad in 1951. it represented no issue at all. has never been the subject of public debate. in the absence of which people reverted to congregate around their religious institutions. the Coptic problem was totally ignored and intentionally avoided or assumed to be non-existent until it flared up in incidents of violence resulting in the loss of lives and property. had worked for. Before that time.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page xv ment of institutions of civil society. It is clear that the secularist liberal ideas that Egypt had espoused after the 1919 revolution and which had empowered Egyptians to choose their own government were unable to withstand the momentous events that befell Egypt in the years that followed World War II. is the position of the Coptic minority within the context of the nation state. which the reader will notice I have repeatedly returned to in the pages of this book. Its discussion is avoided and feared although it is of the utmost importance in determining the path of Egypt in future years. and as a result of the national revolution of 1919. submitting to the leadership of the clergy. regardless of religious affiliation. The Copts were totally integrated within the nation. admittedly low-keyed at the beginning. The most con- PREFACE | xv . It was only in the years following the defeat and humiliation of the 1948 debacle and the tragic loss of Palestine that the question of the rights and position of the Copts within the nation state started to surface. In these early years.

Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page xvi sequential of these events was the 1948 war that resulted in the establishment of the state of Israel. As the reader will recognize. halted initiative. and dealt a blow to the merit system. The 1952 revolution came at a time when the ideas of the 1919 revolution and the institutions that it had created had already been weakened by the continuous onslaught of many forces. The loss of that war effectively wiped out all hope in the existing regimes and in the liberal secularist ideas that they had embraced. in many of which I participated. Readers who are not familiar with recent Egyptian history may find it useful to refer to it in order to follow the sequence of events mentioned in the autobiography. it took a lot of maneuvering to achieve any constructive work in this difficult and daunting atmosphere. who did not want his powers to be curtailed. I had hoped to see the revolution adopting these principles and starting to build a viable and proper democratic system of government. which did not want to heed the calls to evacuate Egypt. which feared losing its sway should the progressive movement build momentum. It inflamed the spirit of revolution that finally erupted in 1952 when a small group of army officers under the leadership of Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser took control. xvi | PREFACE . the British colonial power. At the end of the book the reader will find a chronological table of some of the major events frequently referred to in this book. I lived my mature years with the 1952 revolution and its tumultuous events. During those years I had hoped that the revolution would restore the principles of the liberal movement that had been established by our fathers. now that all the forces that had fought against them had disappeared from the scene. This not only enfeebled the existing formal institutions but it curtailed the development of a civil society. and the religious right. The great accomplishments of the revolution were marred by the manner in which they were executed beyond the bounds of the formal institutions of society. Unfortunately the many monumental challenges that the revolution had to face from inside and outside frustrated this hope and gave rise instead to ideas that justified the undemocratic measures it had to take to secure its own safety as well as the safety of the country itself. without accountability or impartial surveillance. These included the king.

up to the beginning of the industrial revolution. It may have been due to the fact that they either took their history for granted or that they found it so full of suffering that they preferred to ignore it altogether. It is no wonder that the family history of an average Egyptian is too painful to remember or to document. generation after generation. In February of that ROOTS | 1 . It was as if they were intentionally avoiding the subject. Not only did it make me conscious of my roots but it also made me realize that anyone’s roots are worthy of being known and traced. The many years of oppression. For close to three thousand years Egypt remained under continuous foreign occupation. misery. I suspect that this was not unique to my family but was common to most Egyptian families. I remained oblivious of my roots until 1948. the fertile land of Egypt made it one of the richest countries in the world and the prize that was sought after by every conqueror. who gave them hardly anything in return and bestowed upon them no rights. tilling and cultivating it for the benefit of their rulers. When agriculture was the main source of wealth.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 1 1 Roots L ike most other children of my generation. seem to have left them with a memory that no one was proud of. and injustice that the Egyptians had to endure under foreign rule. when an incident that took place in the British Museum in London sparked my interest. During this long time the Egyptians became serfs on their own land. The question was not a subject of conversation in my family and I do not remember that my parents ever talked to me about it or bothered to convey to me any information pertaining to the history or origins of their families. I was raised in a family that showed no interest whatsoever in the question of its roots.

when I first reached it in 1945. The effects of World War II were clearly visible everywhere. I noticed an English lady staring at me. which had remained neutral and was not party to the war. the cars were few and the traffic flowed smoothly. where I had done part of my studies. As I was looking at a limestone statue in the Old Kingdom section. It had very little foreign presence and there was hardly any other language spoken on its streets but English. I decided to visit the famed British Museum. I saw the streets of Zurich. was reasonable and within the reach of a student like myself. Many of the comforts that I had expected were not there. The few cars that were allowed to run were emergency cars fueled by gas distilled from coal in little carts that were hauled behind them. for the war had forced the city to be parsimonious and Spartan. which I had always yearned to see. Initially this made me slightly uncomfortable. a city that I had always wanted to visit by virtue of the fact that it was the capital of the empire that had ruled Egypt for a period of time and had made a great impact on it. London was then a purely English city. “Can’t you see the similarity between the two of you?” I looked again at the statue. Landlocked Switzerland. Hot water was available only for a few hours a day in its houses and even in the best of its hotels. including the finest of its public places. With her hand pointing at the statue. Three years after the end of the war. This was my first visit to London.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 2 year.” she said. while visiting London on my way to the United States from Switzerland. Food was still rationed and the few cars that were running on the streets were old. I entered the British Museum and went directly to the Ancient Egyptian section to see the antiquities that had been hauled en masse from my country and in particular the famed Rosetta Stone. The buildings were shabby even though they still kept a great deal of their old splendor. Air conditioning was unknown to any of its buildings. it was of a 2 | ROOTS . I was astonished by her remark. she replied. its effects were still felt in Britain and in every other country in Europe. The price of hotel accommodation. suffered from a shortage of gas to fuel any cars on its roads. including those that did not even enter it. with hardly any cars. “You are undoubtedly an Egyptian. The city was quiet. “How did you know?” I asked. even the finest. but she quickly came over to me.

This bias is not restricted to those who went to school but cuts across the entire nation. We were taught to disown its people whom we were led to believe were “pagans” living in the age of ignorance. In the schools I had attended. It made me realize for the first time. I immediately saw the similarity. These ranks had been previously restricted to officers of Turkish or Circassian descent. If anything has changed with regard to this bias it is only that there is today a greater awareness of the value of antiquities as mere objects that can attract tourists. that there is something that links me with these ancient people. Said Pasha was remembered and revered by the Egyptians because of the reforms he introduced that allowed them to own land for the first time and to be promoted to the upper ranks of the army. irrespective of their religion. ROOTS | 3 . Among the reforms he introduced was that which made all Egyptians equal in the eyes of the law. The jizya was the head or poll tax that early Islamic rulers demanded from their non-Muslim subjects. and contrary to what I had been taught at school. This incident ignited my curiosity to learn more about my roots and the relationship that I may have had with the ancient Egyptians. He canceled the tribute (jizya) that was levied on the Copts and allowed them to serve in the army. I still remember the conversation I had in 1954 with an illiterate farmer in the village of Gabalayn in Upper Egypt.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 3 nobleman from the Fourth Dynasty. Ancient Egypt was depicted as another country that had no relationship to the Egypt we live in today. as he was about to call the villagers to bear witness to what he had said. He was curious to know the reason for my visit. When I told him that I had come to see the temple that my grandparents had built. I did not want to continue the discourse. My father was born in 1882 and was named Said after the pasha (governor) who was the ruler of Egypt in the 1850s. who approached me as I was on my way to the ruins of the temple that lies on the outskirts of the village. Both my parents were born in Cairo. I am almost certain that the present-day school curriculum is just as prejudiced against this ancient culture and its people as it was in my days. he was greatly offended and denied that he or I could have any relationship to these heathens who did not know God and who were among the cruelest and most misled.

kin. some 360 kilometers to the south of Cairo. They held secret the methods by which they measured the land and the way they kept the records. He was born in al-Saraqna village in Asyut province. For the ruler it provided a safe and easy way to get the taxes without risking confrontations that could end in chaos and the ruin of the land. who enlarged it and made it a thriving business. This was a job that was done exclusively by Copts. in which the Copts played an important role. after all. It also helped to preserve their Christian faith from extinction as happened in many other countries that were conquered by the Arabs. when the enterprise was taken over by his older son. For farmers it was a kinder system that saved them from the brutal methods that could have come with a system run by a foreigner. where Christianity disappeared completely after the Arab invasion. who had succeeded in keeping it in their hands generation after generation. Unlike all other countries of North Africa. was found useful and functional to both the ruler and the farmer. hiding information and reconsidering land measurements and tax estimates. By keeping this important and indispensable job in their hands the Copts were assured a position in the society that no ruler could afford to dispense with.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 4 My grandfather died before my father was born. who sympathized with their problems and who ordinarily would have sided with them when in need. who was already married at the time of his birth. This role made the Copt an essential member of the community and helped strengthen the bond between Copt and Muslim in the countryside. In Cairo he worked in the haberdashery business with his brother-in-law until his untimely death. a job that determined the tax due on each parcel of land. The system of land tax estimation and collection. handing them only to their children. My best guess is that my grandfather was born in the late 1830s toward the end of the reign of Muhammad ‘Ali. He lived in this village until the mid 1870s. My father was raised by his older brother. In the village my grandfather worked as a scribe and surveyor. The Copt was. Egypt has a thriving Coptic minority that has been able to hold steadfast to its faith. when he was forced to leave it for Cairo. The success of this unique system can be measured by the fact that 4 | ROOTS .

There is no doubt that the old system of tax collecting. The Copts. The resistance did not succeed and the new system prevailed. In fact. In his book The Finances of Egypt from the Pharaonic Times to the Present (Alexandria. It became firmly established when the British raised state-of-the-art maps for the valley of the Nile. who had occupied Egypt some 83 years earlier. The system was replaced by a modern one that aimed to put the finances of the country under the control of the new British administration. helped Egypt maintain a measure of independence. something the French. but I have no definite substantiation of that. when the ledgers were reexamined and the land measurements were reset. in comparison with the 1. It was the British occupation of Egypt in 1882 that ended that system. and established a whole new modern tax department. I dropped al-A‘mash from my name early on because of the ridicule it aroused among my colleagues in the early years of my schooling.050. they had failed completely in organizing a cadastral register of agricultural land. While the French had succeeded during the years of their occupation of Egypt to introduce a civil register and establish a system of taxation on real estate. who harbored suspicion and hatred of the British. despite its defectiveness. whom he dubbed insubordinate and roguish. which was probably given because one of my great grandfathers is purported to have been an albino.000 pounds that were collected annually in the years before the occupation. 1931) Prince Omar Toussoun mentions that the amount of land tax collected in 1799 during the French occupation amounted to 870. ROOTS | 5 . the amount of tax collected from this land during the years of French occupation was less than that collected in the years that preceded it. It is said that Napoleon was angry with the Copts. carried out a cadastral survey. These overhauls were not intended to change the system but rather to redistribute its exploits. It survived unscathed the many overhauls that it was subjected to by every new ruling dynasty. resisted the change.000 pounds. My family’s name is al-A‘mash (albino in Arabic). instituted a school for surveying. had not been able to do. By so doing the British succeeded in controlling the finances of Egypt.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 5 it remained in force for close to twelve uninterrupted centuries.

after important members of the village entreated the multazim to show some leniency. Luckily for my grandfather the punishment was reduced to licking the dust on the ground in public. Their verdict was final and they were not accountable to anyone. The departure of my grandfather from the village had to take place secretly. since it was against the law for any farmer to leave the land. He enjoyed unlimited powers and could inflict any punishment he saw fit. Stories abound about the misuse of these powers and the injustice multazims inflicted. He surreptitiously took a sailing boat down the Nile and settled in Cairo with a handsome stack of golden pounds. To this my grandfather answered back and cursed him in public. The mayor of the village. The fight that my grandfather had with the multazim arose when the latter accused him of wasting tax money. My grandfather indeed licked the dust on the ground in public and. which made his stay in the village impossible. who luckily was very familiar with what had happened almost 75 years earlier. His departure appears to have taken place in the 1870s during the reign of Khedive Isma‘il. including execution. The multazim was given the village in his trust (‘uhda) and was allowed to collect its taxes any way he saw fit after having paid the designated full tax to the government in advance. The multazim was the government representative in the village who oversaw the collection of its share of taxes. I began to unfold part of this saga when I visited his home village of al-Saraqna in 1953.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 6 The conditions under which my grandfather left his village have always intrigued me. The multazim was so furious that he decided to act on the spot and ordered the cutting out of my grandfather’s tongue in the presence of everyone in the village. I suspect. told me that my grandfather had a fight with the multazim. Indeed the knives were sharpened in preparation for that grisly public display. happily so. under duress and under circumstances that were shrouded in mystery. The iltizam system was introduced to Egypt by the Ottomans and was modified by Muhammad ‘Ali when many farmers were unable to pay their taxes and were in arrears. knowing what the alternative was. as he was known to be a man of some means. This 6 | ROOTS . The upshot of this confrontation was that life in the village after that event became impossible for my grandfather.

and work on the farm. even the clothes had been torn to pieces. The land tax was raised many times during the 1870s to service the increasing debt that Khedive Isma‘il had incurred for Egypt. The successive birth of two girls at the beginning of my mother’s marriage irked her mother-in-law. after having torn the clothes of the corpse to shreds in front of everyone. in turn. and buried the body. and his older and only living brother had only one daughter who. three girls and three boys. who had been brought up to care for the home. and to manage to bury her dead son. His father was an only child. shows how capable my grandmother must have been. I was his fourth child. a common occurrence at that time due to poor conditions of public health. who had come to live with her after her mar- ROOTS | 7 . To undertake the trip down the Nile on her own with her children. had two boys from a husband that died at an early age. She prepared the corpse. The mother arranged for his burial in a small town near al. born in 1920 when my father was 38 years old. During this trip the younger son died after a short illness. Two girls and a boy were born before me. My father had six surviving children. Very often these women had to head the family and be responsible for its wellbeing because of the early death of the husband. My grandfather departed to Cairo alone. He left behind a wife with two boys and a girl who soon all followed him on a trip down the Nile to Cairo. The habit of shredding the clothes of the deceased came as a result of that pervasive and repugnant practice. This she did to prove to everyone that there was nothing in the grave worth stealing. The girls were born in 1909 and 1911 and the boy in 1913. arranging for all the details of his funeral in a town unfamiliar to her. performed the prayers.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 7 law had been promulgated to prevent the exodus of farmers that was taking place because of the high land taxes that had made farming no longer worthwhile. I suspect that she was no different from any other farming woman of the time. It goes back to the time of Ancient Egypt when the dead were buried with their valuables.Minya (about 100 kilometers to the north of al-Saraqna). helped dig the grave. My father’s family was not large. rear the children. The practice of re-opening and looting graves is old.

on the other hand. girls required greater attention for they were more liable than boys to bring shame to the family if they ever fell into temptation and got involved in an affair. Girls. My father’s upbringing is interesting. There was no doubt in my grandmother’s mind that it was the woman who was responsible for the sex of the newborn. After bringing them up and investing in them. get married. they would leave the family. In addition. when we decided to have a separate burial place from that of my uncle. when he bought large quantities of shawls and ornate cloth that he sold retail in his shop at the bazaar. His older brother. When my mother was on her deathbed in 1952. We could not fulfill this wish until many years later. albeit a successful businessman who traded in cloth and textiles that were mostly imported from Greece and Turkey. The birth of two girls who happened to come after the loss of the first baby boy was a wrongdoing on my mother’s part that she could not accept. were dependent and constituted a liability. He was the first in his family to go to school and to learn how to read and write. Men. Like all people of her generation my grandmother cherished boys because they were the breadwinners who carried the name of the family and gave it its security. The merchandise was transported to Egypt by sailing boats that crossed the Mediterranean and went up the Nile all the way to the port of Bulaq in Cairo. Life with her mother-in-law must have been difficult for my mother. was illiterate. which the family had used until then. or possessing any written document. in her view. were inferior to boys. Girls. her only wish that she expressed to me was not to be buried in the same place as my grandmother. and serve and become attached to another family. according to her. who never forgave her the misery she inflicted upon her by continuously interfering in her affairs. My uncle ran his thriving business without having any dealings with banks. almost twenty-two years after the death of her mother-in-law. had nothing to do with this matter or with any other matter that related to the child. I still remember my uncle taking me to that port on several occasions. keeping any books.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 8 riage in 1904. His entire dealings were by word of mouth and were carried out in cash or by credit based on an honor sys- 8 | ROOTS . who raised him.

as witnessed by his insistence on sending my father to school and the manner in which he managed his business. namely from a grandfather who was illiterate to a grandson who received a doctorate from Harvard University. was not free. Eventually my father prevailed. who stayed with him all his life and who carried out every conceivable job. but learned English later in life and spoke it with a strong French accent. Interestingly. The importance of education must have been strongly inculcated in my father as evidenced by the fact that he made sure that all his children. and the humble shelter he lived in. boys and girls. he lived very modestly. Despite my uncle’s acumen and perspicacity. and until the graduation of the youngest of his children. With the education my father received. that my uncle realized the importance of the education of which he had been deprived. all in the span of only two generations. After graduation. He never had any desire to move to a higher social class even after he became wealthy. and indeed sent him to the Frères French school in Cairo where my father graduated. however. went to university and graduate school despite the enormous financial burden he had to shoulder. my father worked as a clerk in the railway administration and continued to do so until he retired. Despite his expanding and relatively booming business my uncle had only one employee. and my uncle’s daughter ended up marrying a jeweler who died a few years ROOTS | 9 . He felt the duty of providing it to my father. It is obvious. He never knew anything more than his work. who felt that the groom was not eligible. my father spoke French well. Education at that time. My uncle’s response was that the groom was a decent and healthy man and not much different from him when he started his career. the simple food he ate.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 9 tem. an incredible leap took place in my family. The fees were high and ranged from 10 pounds for the primary school to 40 pounds for the engineering and medical schools. Corruption and favoritism were rampant then as they are today. When a janitor proposed to marry his only daughter he agreed without hesitation despite the protestation of my father. Scholarships were difficult to obtain because they were frequently given to the rich and influential.

which was edited by Ya‘qub Sarruf and carried news about innovations in science. My father was exposed to a number of books that dealt with topics that challenged the current and well established thinking of his day. a critical study of the despotism of the Ottoman rulers. who had the same sense of equality and who had not yet developed a class system that would make some people feel superior to others. It is interesting to compare here the egalitarian attitude of my uncle and that of the early settlers of America. Although I saw my mother observing the Coptic fast. In this respect my father must have been a very unusual person. Most of these books were written by Levantine intellectuals who came to seek refuge in Egypt from the Ottomans’ despotic rule. and his library did not contain any of them. which was edited by Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid. He showed great reverence toward all religions and believed that faith is a private matter. which discusses Darwin’s evolution theory. My father also subscribed to contemporary progressive magazines that dealt with liberal and serious issues such as al-Muqtataf. I do not remember seeing my father joining her or being 10 | ROOTS . Qasim Amin’s The Liberation of Women.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 10 into the marriage. and al-Garida. My father had no appreciation for the classical Arabic books that were commonly read at the time. which was edited and almost wholly written by Salama Musa. and al-Kawkabi’s The Characteristics of Oppression. He was also equally unusual in his outlook on religion. Two boys resulted from the marriage. Among the books that were left behind by my father and that I presume he must have read are: the Arabic translation of Ernst Renan’s Jesus the Son of Man. Although a firm believer. I do not recall that he ever engaged in any religious discussion even with the members of his own family. a well-known liberal writer. which he practiced in his own way. Shibli Shumayl’s Evolution. he lived a secular life and did not have strong ties to the church. They carried new ideas that shook Egyptian intellectual life and opened up a whole new world of ideas. a book that stirred a great controversy within the Catholic church when first published in France at the turn of the century. al-Mustaqbal. and that kept my young widowed cousin busy for the rest of her life bringing them up. a noted intellectual.

He owned a horse and buggy that took my mother to the American school in Azbakiya. which was incipient at the end of the nineteenth century and culminated in the revolution of 1919. The movement opened up new horizons that went beyond the religious and classical outlooks that had so far guided the lives of the Egyptians. each carrying a bouquet of flowers. I still have a photograph of her graduation that shows the twenty female graduates dressed to the hilt.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 11 bothered in any way by her fasting. ROOTS | 11 . Cairo. The identity of Egyptians became tied to the nation they lived in rather than to the religion they professed. but its origin was the village of Mer. the rest were Lebanese or Armenian. I suspect that he met her while he was tutoring her brother in French. which allowed him to send his daughters to school. from which she graduated from high school in 1899. All his children carried on the same tradition. There were only three Egyptians out of the twenty graduates. He seems to have been a man of some means. My mother’s father worked as a clerk in the Egyptian army and was attached to the office of the famed nationalist leader and minister of defense Ahmad ‘Urabi. Among these was the choice of children’s names that would not label their owners as belonging to a particular religion. which lies not very far from the village of al-Saraqna from where my grandfather’s family originated. It brought to the fore the concept of nationhood under whose banner all citizens were considered equal irrespective of their religion. I am not exactly sure how my father met my mother. he went to church only on special occasions. The revolution adopted the motto. He represented the thinking of a generation that had been influenced by the national Egyptian movement. Those twenty graduates represented all the female graduates in Egypt that year. Neither was he a regular churchgoer. Toward the end of his life I saw him reading the Bible sporadically. My mother’s family was also from Cairo. My father was of the first generation of Copts who gave their children such names.” The support that was granted to this slogan manifested itself in many ways. “Religion is for God but the Nation is for all. My father was not unusual in this secular outlook.

The Hyksos. the earliest of which is documented on the walls of the temple of Ramses III in Luxor as the “peo- 12 | ROOTS . The Search for Roots I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter how a remark made by an English woman noting the similarity in looks between me and an Ancient Egyptian statue intrigued me and made me eager to find the secret of this persistent similarity 150 generations later. Individuals and small groups of the roving nomads of these deserts frequently lurched into Egypt when life became harsh and difficult. the Assyrian. At times the migrants came in well-organized hordes that were capable of overwhelming the country and wresting its control from the Egyptians. Egypt was like an oasis in the midst of the arid lands of the Middle East. Throughout history incessant waves of migrants from the surrounding desert came to settle in Egypt when their lands were struck with drought. In addition. whom she disliked. I was born in this house where my father and mother were living after having moved into it a few years earlier. She found that this might be the easiest way to avoid living with her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law was forced then to live with her other son. the Arab. a move that she did not want to make because his wife was much more harsh and uncouth than my mother. in the River Nile it had a reliable source of water making life along its banks reasonably secure.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 12 My grandfather on my mother’s side had a large house in Shubra (a suburb in the north of Cairo). various migrations came from across the seas. but I suspect that it was under pressure from my mother. I do not know the reasons that prompted my parents to come to live with my maternal uncle in this house. It had a large yard with flowerbeds and a fountain in the middle. and the Turkish hordes are but examples of these who were able to occupy and live in Egypt for varying periods of time. My curiosity became all the more keen as I learned about the history of the numerous migrations to this country from far and near and the various occupations it had to endure. the Persian.

In those days Switzerland had a very homogeneous population with very few foreigners. France. he was incredulous. The tension and instability that have haunted Egyptians throughout most of their history proved to be significant factors in the absence of any documentation and registration of vital statistics. I still remember an incident in Switzerland in 1945. still others were black with curly hair and thick lips. We looked like a mixed group that could not have come from one country. on many occasions. even in members of the same family. Some of us were white in complexion with green eyes and blond hair. In 1968 when I headed the geological survey of Egypt. I certainly did not blame him.” Later sea migrations and occupations came from places such as Greece.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 13 ple of the sea. blond hair. These massive migrations and occupations led to an intense racial mix that shows in the looks of Egyptians to this day. At the same time her own daughters and nieces had dark complexions. I found out. The search for roots in Egypt proved to be a daunting if not impossible task. As we sat at the dining table in the small motel where I was staying with my Egyptian friends the motel owner asked. “Are you all from the same country?” When we answered positively. brown hair. Birth certificates were virtually unknown until the beginning of the twentieth century and in fact did not become universally used until the middle of the twentieth century. much to my surprise. Egypt’s wealth and strategic location were what they all coveted. black eyes. that close to 80 percent of the workers who were recruited from the countryside to do seasonal work for the survey did not have birth certificates. our looks were indeed very different. and England. big. and blue eyes. Rome. others were darker in complexion with black eyes and hair. little children would stop us in the street and ask their mothers about the color of our skin or hair. We needed the certificates to register their birth dates in their personal files before appointing them to permanent jobs. My own mother had a brother who had a fair complexion. I ordered that a medical doctor estimate their age. something they had not encountered before. In the absence of these. Even members of the same family could vary tremendously in looks. and wide. THE SEARCH FOR ROOTS | 13 . I remember.

the state of the graveyards was no different from the state of registered documents. No proper maintenance. I decided to investigate the possibility of using genetic material from the deceased of my family to find what similarity. I managed to convince one of my geneticist friends to help me with this project and got him very excited about it. and of course grave looting. which is still prevalent in Egypt. and becoming desperate in the quest for my roots. I still remember the poignant and traumatic experience I had as a nine-year old boy when I accompanied my father and some relatives to move the remains of the dead of the family to a new graveyard. This needed to be done because Cairo had expanded so quickly that the old 14 | ROOTS . all made the task impossible. As stated earlier. I myself dropped my family name without any remorse. no clear knowledge of who was buried where. The reason for this may be that they considered such documents as being of no value and not worth keeping. it bears to that of the ancient Egyptians. Even family names did not escape this laxity in the preservation of the family’s legacy. This results in the disappearance of the family name within a maximum of two generations. Much to my chagrin. Marriages were never registered in a public register until the middle of the twentieth century. Traditionally they were in the form of small sheets of paper that were kept by the family or the priest.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 14 Marriage certificates are equally difficult to find. Amazingly. if any. Losing hope of finding any reliable documentation. The new government “name law” specifies that the full name of any newly-born Egyptian is composed of his or her name as given upon birth followed by the father’s and then the grandfather’s first names. They only became universally used at a very late date. Death certificates are also difficult to come by. The government itself encourages this trend. Most Egyptian families do not have a common name for all their members. or that they were so poor that they did not have the means to hold them for any length of time. we could not identify four consecutive dead generations of my family or any other family in any burial site we examined in Cairo and in Upper Egypt. The vast majority of Egyptian families have few if any documents that can help trace their roots.

which. “but if you want to avenge him then I am more than ready for you. Al-Saraqna is a small village in Upper Egypt. and urging him to take me in as a guest and make my trip a pleasant one. He was quite unfriendly initially and inquired about the reason for my trip. was part of the district of Mer from where my mother’s family originated.” I replied. as the condition of the corpses was very bad. The man was loaded for bear. he was pointing his rifle at me ready for action. “This is ancient history and there is nothing left of your grandfather in this village to visit. surprisingly. I took it upon myself to make the trip to al-Saraqna in 1953. When my father and relatives opened the graves no one could distinguish or separate the remains of the different buried relatives. When the good doctor realized my desire to visit the village.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 15 graveyard had become part of the downtown area. The government at the time asked the families to move the remains of their dead to a new site on the periphery of the city.” he retorted. until the end of the Ottoman rule. After a short family deliberation it was decided to put all the bones collectively in one big box and take it for burial at the new site.” By that time. It is situated next to the Coptic Monastery of Dayr al-Muharraq. From there I rode a donkey for five miles on a dirt road to reach al-Saraqna utterly exhausted. While conversing with him one day. This was hardly the welcome I expected. I found out that his ancestry was also from the same village and that his grandfather was the mayor. I found the mayor waiting for me at the periphery of the village but. he was armed with a rifle and accompanied by four armed bodyguards. “To see the village where my grandfather lived and to gather some information about him. Hilmi Ghali ‘Abd al-Masih. I noticed then that his countenance was showing increasing anger. he sent his grandfather a message informing him of my impending visit. A superslow train took me to the city of al-Qusiya (which used to be called Nazali Ganub at the time of my visit). The only avenue that was left to me in my quest for my roots was to go in person to al-Saraqna village from where my grandfather Farag came. who happened to be a friend of mine. This took me by THE SEARCH FOR ROOTS | 15 . fortunately that endeavor met with some success. Its mayor at the time was the grandfather of the famous psychiatrist Dr.

The monastery lies at the edge of the desert. The mayor told me that his father had taken the position of my grandfather after the escape down the Nile and was chosen to be the mayor when the system of mayoralty was introduced to the villages of Egypt toward the end of the nineteenth century. The early history of the monastery is not definitively documented. I suspect that the animosity in the village toward my grandfather and his family was significant enough to force them to totally abscond from the village. my grandfather had no plans of any revenge against anyone. People like Abu Salih alArmani at the beginning of the thirteenth century and al-Maqrizi in the fifteenth century mention it in their history books. To my knowledge. The monastery was built at the site where the Holy Family is believed to have settled for three and a half years after its escape from Palestine.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 16 surprise. it owned and managed until the early 1950s a very large piece of agricultural land that sur- 16 | ROOTS . and yet its memory had stayed vividly with the son of the man who replaced my grandfather. but one can assert that it is one of the oldest in Egypt. I talked to several people in the village during my visit and found that no one knew anything about my grandfather or any member of his family. as I did not know what the curmudgeon was talking about. and that I was unarmed. The mayor of the village. he was suddenly transformed into a pleasant man and invited me over to his house to give me the scoop on my grandfather. this is a unique monastery as it is the only one that lies within the Nile valley. He just assumed that the purpose of my trip was to collect some owed money or to avenge some old injustices. Al-Saraqna nestles by the Muharraq Monastery. It is worth mentioning here that the story that triggered all this happened over eighty years before. Unlike other monasteries. and is encompassed by an enormous fence. was the last and only one who knew anything about my family. comprises fifteen acres. When I reassured the mayor that the purpose of the visit was not for revenge or money. who was in his mid seventies. He admitted to me that he had been in a state of worry and fear since he received the message from his grandson informing him of my expected arrival. to say the least.

During these raids the Copts used to hide behind the fences of the Monastery or pay the “protection money” imposed on them ostensibly for the purpose of their protection. but the character of the race overall remained intact. such as a shift in the course of the Nile or the encroachment of sand dunes? Or were these reasons related to the THE SEARCH FOR ROOTS | 17 . Every time I visit these ruins. where they could practice their own religion. When I visited al-Saraqna in 1953. just as it was in Europe and the Ottoman Empire during the Middle Ages. It was the result of living in a theocratic state that was governed by the religious law of the majority. to my knowledge. Almost all the people of the village worked on that land. no one has ever written. In that respect it was similar to the Catholic monasteries in Europe during the Middle Ages. This type of population distribution according to religion was prevalent in Egypt. did not experience many religious clashes as Christians and Muslims had common interests. however. The distribution of the populations along religious lines undoubtedly lessened the chances of mingling and helped preserve the “purity” of different races. or foreign influence. Under such a state there was no place for the religious minorities except to congregate in a ghetto. Undoubtedly multiple cases of rape and resultant pregnancies took place. The destroyed villages and deserted monasteries along the west bank of the middle reaches of the Nile valley from Dayrut to al-Balyana (Abydos) are a testament to that sad history that. The Egyptian countryside. must have adulterated this distinctness.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 17 rounded it. This system worked reasonably well during those times and did not offend the sensibilities of the Muslim neighbors who were also feeling the brunt of foreign oppression. This was in contradistinction to the big cities. I keep wondering about the reasons that led the people who once inhabited them to desert them. especially during times of economic crises. The multiple and repeated Bedouin raids that are known to have taken place on the monastery. Were these reasons related to a climatic event that led to changes in the physical environment. bad governments. which experienced many tumultuous religious disturbances. in particular. all its inhabitants were Coptic Christian.

Its infringements were so great that the sultan was forced to launch a war against it and chase it out of the region. each Christian family was assigned a Bedouin for the purpose of its protection. In a few years this Berber tribe extended its area of influence over the entirety of Upper Egypt. It successfully dominated all of Upper Egypt and its leader Hammam behaved as an uncrowned king. the son of Muhammad ‘Ali. in Girga in Upper Egypt. Although peace and stability came back to Upper Egypt after that event. the Hawwara. The land tax was increased and was collected by harsher measures than before. the fact remains that these were wanton and egregious attacks that wreaked terror and disorder and caused untold hardship to the poor. The only consolation for Egyptians was that the money collected was not profligately spent as it used to be but was spent on economic development and the establishment of different industries as well as on the army. the conditions of the Egyptian farmer did not improve. it imposed taxes on the peasants and especially the Christians.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 18 state of instability and irreparable damage that resulted from the many Bedouin raids that these villages were exposed to for centuries? Stories abound in Egyptian folklore about the horrors these raids inflicted. An extra tax was due to that “loyal protector. who headed an expeditionary force to restore order in Upper Egypt. In less than eighty years Sultan Barquq resettled another tribe. Already in the year 1302 during the reign of Sultan al-Nasir a large Bedouin tribe was able to extend its sway over a large area of Upper Egypt. While many left wing intellectuals in Egypt consider the insurgency of Hammam as an uprising of the poor against the sultans and the wealthy landowners. especially after the introduction of the ‘uhda system. The hegemony of the tribe under this leader reached its zenith from 1765 to 1769. The integration of the Copts within 18 | ROOTS .” During the eighteenth century the power of the tribe became supreme. who had to pay an additional tax for protection. It was only in 1813 that the power of these lawless tribes was crushed thanks to Ibrahim Pasha. Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign restored the central government’s credibility and power and paved the way for the creation of a civil society in which the Copts could take part. As strange as it may sound.

THE SEARCH FOR ROOTS | 19 .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 19 the frame of Egyptian society went a step further with the adoption of the political reforms introduced by Said Pasha in 1856 in the wake of the publication of the Ottoman Hamayuni Decree of that year. The revolution of 1919 crowned that achievement by totally integrating the Christians of Egypt within the national movement. or language. race. The 1923 constitution promulgated as a result of this revolution assured freedom of religion and proclaimed equality for all Egyptians regardless of their religion.

Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 20 .

Sa‘d Zaghlul was a frequent subject of conversation in my home. as did many Egyptians. the charismatic leader who was able to initiate a grassroots movement that reached every corner of the country and galvanized every Egyptian. was an enthusiastic supporter of the revolution and its great leader. like every other family in Egypt. The revolution aimed at the independence of Egypt from British occupation and was led by Sa‘d Zaghlul. The movement stirred up national pride and called for the installment of a democratic system of government and the end of the country’s long rule of tyranny. gushing in tears.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 21 2 The Formative Years I was born in Cairo in May 1920. where we were spending our summer vacation. irrespective of class. My family. I remember distinctly the great grief that befell my family when the news of his death reached us in Alexandria. The 1919 revolution restored to Egyptians their self-confidence and pride. one year after the great reawakening that Egypt had witnessed in the wake of the national revolution of 1919. or educational background. religion. The rediscovery of that identity brought a revival that touched every aspect of the life of the country and made the decade of the 1920s one the best in the history of modern Egypt. where his photos adorned the walls. He was talked about so fondly that in time I began to think of him as a second father to me. which they had been forced to forsake during the four hundred years of oppressive Ottoman occupation. rushed to catch the train to Cairo to participate in the great leader’s funeral. On that day my father. During that THE FORMATIVE YEARS | 21 . The day Sa‘d Zaghlul died in August 1927 was a day of national mourning. It made them conscious of their national identity.

and journalism. legislative. restricted the authority of the king. The university was reorganized and the faculties of arts and science were opened in 1925. which the revolution had made one of its main goals. It made them aware of the ancient and glorious history that they had been forced to forget for centuries and inspired them to regain the leading position they once had in the fields of art. and science. The process of nation building. theater. and judicial powers.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 22 decade liberal political thinking established its roots. The discovery dazzled the world and made the Egyptians proud of their country and forebears. all of which had been severely neglected. Another example that 22 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . The mere fact that he dared make a statue despite the total ban that had been in force during centuries of theocratic rule shows the spirit of the age and the new zeal that the revolution had instilled in the people. singing. They were staffed by professors of the highest caliber who were recruited from all over the world. It affirmed the principle of the separation of the executive. literature. I would find no better example than the prominent and quintessential Mahmud Mukhtar. They contributed in the dissemination of knowledge and helped transform the university into a center of learning of international repute. During that decade Egypt’s educational system was modernized. He became the first Egyptian to sculpt a statue after a hiatus of over twenty centuries. was given a great boost by the discovery in 1922 of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. equality of citizens before the law regardless of origin or belief. Traditional religious schools (the kuttab) were phased out and were replaced by modern secular schools. and guaranteed Egyptians the right to govern their country through representation in a freely elected parliament. thus restoring to Egyptians an art they had pioneered and excelled in for a long time. If I were to choose one example that embodies the spirit of that age. As a result of that awareness Egyptians started to venture into these fields and many succeeded in making breakthroughs in them. During the same decade Egyptians also excelled in the fields of movie making. The constitution declared the principles of human rights. and a modern progressive constitution was ratified in 1923. the famous sculptor whose statues adorn many of Cairo’s squares. and freedom of speech and religion.

My parents had no doubt whatsoever that the government would take excellent care of their daughter. His patriotic songs and new lyrics not only inspired the people but ushered in a new era in the arts. When she came back she introduced a number of changes that left a lasting impact on my family’s way of life and attitudes. In‘am studied art and returned from England after seven years of absence from Egypt. My European and American friends until this day are incredulous when they hear of my sister’s trip to England in 1925. She was barely sixteen years old when she was chosen to go on that mission. Egypt was ahead of most countries. In that sense. We had our meals at appointed times and they became an occasion for the members of the family to sit down and converse together. The children of the family (myself included) had to go to bed early and at a set time every night. She rearranged the furniture of our home and added a touch of beauty to the rooms by adorning them with statues that she had sculpted and paintings and etchings of her own or of others that she had acquired while abroad.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 23 reveals the depth and extent of the revival. My older sister In‘am was one of those selected. This not only reflected the great strides that the women’s liberation movement had achieved at the time but also the great degree of trust that existed between the government and the people. In‘am changed many of our habits to help make our lives more organized and civil. The daring move of both the government and parents to send women at such a young age to study abroad was unthinkable even in Europe and the United States at that time. The renaissance touched my family directly when the first freely elected government of 1925 decided to send a mission of young women to study abroad. The dining table was set before every meal and knives and forks were placed properly. Despite her young age my parents agreed to let her go to England without any hesitation. which seems to have touched every field of endeavor. The mission included fifteen high school graduates. is the brilliant singer Sayyid Darwish. Everyone THE FORMATIVE YEARS | 23 . who were selected to go to England where the Egyptian government enrolled them in English schools and arranged for their stay in a house that was run by an English lady.

We were not allowed to keep our pajamas on during the day as we used to do. made regular trips to museums. they competed in reading skills. Many of my sister’s colleagues. she enrolled my younger brother Kamal and me in the Boys’ Department of the YMCA which then occupied in downtown Cairo the beautiful palace of Nubar Pasha. They were organized into groups called “clubs” that chose their names and banners and elected their officials—the president. whom we fondly called Uncle Ya‘qub. The members were between ten and sixteen years of age. who had just returned from a mission at Yale University where he had finished a master’s degree in education. and hobbies of different kinds. hitherto functioning solely as a recreational and sports club. Perhaps the most important benefit I gained from my years at the Boys’ Department was learning the art of living in a group and the methods by which any group should run its affairs. Joining that club at age twelve was one of the most influential factors in my development. the former prime minister of Egypt during the late nineteenth century. I also learned the importance of the principles of transparency. In addition to sports. The older members of the family had an afternoon tea that was open to visitors once a week. the secretary. He gave the Boys’ Department. theater. was a great educator. manage disagreements. Ya’qub Fam. present a case. His goal was to help develop good citizens out of the members of the department and to instill in them the principles of civil society. accountability. and record deliberations. who regularly visited our home. prepare an agenda. The clubs entered into competition with one another. an educational dimension.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 24 had to wear pajamas at night and take them off in the morning to put on new and clean clothes. or listened to classical and international music. There were also many common activities in which the members went to picnics. take votes. public debate. and the treasurer. The department was under the supervision of Ya‘qub Fam. conduct a dialogue. This wide exposure helped me to expand my horizons at this early age. and participation in 24 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . One year after In‘am’s return. Visiting and socializing became restricted to the living room. achieved important and influential positions in the public life of Egypt in later years. I learned how to call a meeting.

I also learned to take seriously my promises and any responsibility that was entrusted to me. The elections gave every member of the group the chance to participate in the running of its affairs. as well as my total absorption in the activities of the Boys’ Department. I must admit that Ya‘qub Fam had the greatest positive influence on me during my formative years. The Boys’ Department has a special place in my memory not only for the education and good time it gave me but also for the many friendships that I still keep to this day. The Boys’ Department also helped me to express myself and find vent for my creative capacities. I ran for many of these positions. I reached a high degree of proficiency in basketball and volleyball and. and to live in a group where decisions are taken in transparency and by a vote. helped me to overcome the difficulties that necessarily come as a result of such a deprivation. All this learning took place in the Boys’ Department with ease and in a joyful atmosphere despite the competitive mood that governed the contests and elections that we went through and which represented an important part of the experiment. in tennis. During the election campaigns that I conducted. conduct a debate. It also gave me a chance to meet. and accept the will of the majority. members of the other sex during the family gatherings and parties that were regularly held. My total absorption in these and many other activities that the Boys’ Department offered helped me to pass my teenage years without trouble. Meeting the opposite sex in those days was extremely difficult and these encounters. to be able to conduct a dialogue. Engaging in sports was of paramount importance to me. which were being suppressed by the patriarchal and regimented school system that I went through. to a lesser degree. albeit occasionally. In 1936 my proficiency in basketball was such that I was selected as a reserve in the Egyptian national team to the Berlin Olympics.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 25 running the affairs of a group successfully. The educational experiment of Ya‘qub Fam offers an effective method for bringing up a responsible citizenry that can make a true democracy THE FORMATIVE YEARS | 25 . During these years I learned to accept and respect the other. I learned how to present a case. These principles were instilled in the members by the frequent elections that the Boys’ Department ran for all its positions.

the school is regimented. Vicious fights broke out in the classroom several times a day. but the table manners of most of the boys left a lot to be desired. and lacking in manners. as its leaders frequently assert. Democracy. Mesiha Girgis. school. Egyptians are deprived of actively participating in the shaping of their lives. There is no way that a democracy can take root in a society whose members are not allowed to conduct a dialogue or to participate in the formulation of any decision that concerns them at any stage of their lives. rough. There was also some discipline during lunchtime. They must be given the opportunity to participate in the running of their affairs in their homes and in their schools and later on in the district or the town in which they live. This was especially the case with some of the teachers who could not control the boys in the classroom. after all. All kinds of objects from those rows were hurled at that hapless and helpless man. My years in high (secondary) school were not among the happiest of my life. The boys in my class were older in age. The home is patriarchal. It was housed in a beautiful turn-of-the-twentieth- 26 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . If Egypt is truly aiming at building a democracy. vulgar.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 26 work. Despite the bedlam that took place in the classrooms the boys had to behave impeccably in the morning when they saluted the flag in front of the principal. who was feared by everyone. Whether at home. as is the case in Egypt today. or in public life. the teacher of the French language. At the time I joined it. who was so severely myopic that he could not see the boys in the back rows of the class. is not a slogan to be raised but a way of life to be practiced. then it should study this experiment and try to apply it in its schools and youth clubs. vile language and profanity were common. I vividly remember Monsieur Audibert. I also remember my English teacher. and civil society is non-existent or manipulated by government agents who are not accountable to any one. In many instances the resulting pandemonium in the classroom rendered any attempt at learning impossible. My first year in that school was miserable. whose classes epitomized this total chaos. the Tawfiqiya school was one of the bestequipped schools. Citizens must be prepared for it from their early youth. I joined the Tawfiqiya secondary school in the district of Shubra when I was barely eleven years old.

The school had also an Olympic-size soccer field. The classrooms were well equipped with maps and state-of-the-art teaching aids.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 27 century building with a high iron fence and a big yard. Despite all this. My academic ranking henceforth hovered between the first and the third in the class. as after that my school performance started improving by leaps and bounds. It was run in an autocratic manner and the curricula were taught so as to be remembered by rote. which was a nice change from the rest of the THE FORMATIVE YEARS | 27 . and a small museum of natural history. My older sister Luly started tutoring me and showed me how to study and be organized and reviewed the curriculum with me the summer before school restarted. When I returned to school the next fall I was ready to prove myself to my family and teachers. I felt lonely and estranged in that environment. the tennis courts were on the left followed by the administration building. but that challenge was the impetus that made me excel later on. Gradually I started neglecting my work. to which I had not been previously exposed. As one entered the iron gate of the school and into the long corridor that followed. My siblings and relatives taunted me about it and warned me that another failure would put me in the same class as my younger brother Kamal. the laboratories. The yard had flowerbeds and scattered large ficus trees with benches in their shade. this culminated in my failure the first year of high school. My biggest competitor at school was Zaki Ishaq. who was exceedingly successful at school. The corridor then opened up into an enormous yard that was surrounded by the classrooms. That was the point of no return. He seemed to achieve the first ranking more times than I did and was a very amiable and well-mannered boy. It showed that I had failed in every subject including the subject of drawing. Needless to say. who later became a prominent engineer. The rough schoolmates and their vulgarity. I had to repeat my first year in high school. the school did not offer an atmosphere that permitted the students to express themselves or to have any initiative. On the right was the headmaster’s house tucked in a well-kept garden. the day I received my report card was a black day in my young life. intimidated me and added to my problems in the school.

In this war the British and French attempts to recapture the Suez canal that had been nationalized by Egypt failed. found himself in a strange and hostile environment that he had to cope with as best as he could. Kareem’s education there was reasonably good. The school was poor in discipline and the students were rough and contentious and engaged in daily brawls. His mother spent many hours teaching him English as a child as well as 28 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . Kareem. if not better. My wife and I decided to move Kareem to the new “private national school” of Maadi that the Egyptian ministry of education had established in the wake of that war. In addition. We found nothing in the curricula that could bring the best in our boy or prepare him for the world that we thought he would be facing in the future.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 28 crowd. I befriended him. British schools were taken over by Egypt and their British and foreign teachers left the schools and went back home. For that reason. Initially he went to an English school in Maadi (a Cairo suburb best known for its Cairo American College) for a couple of years and until such schools were taken over by the state in the aftermath of the Suez war of 1956. and highly disciplined. and we felt certain that the new school was going to be just as good. High school education had been on a downhill slide since that time and seems to have continued unabated to this day. Both his mother and I felt compelled to supplement his education with daily lessons through the summer vacation. we had to negate a lot of the backward ideas that were inculcated in him at school. the curriculum was backward and the quality of the teachers was poor. than the English school that it had replaced. It seemed to have become worse than it was when I attended it some thirty-four years earlier. Thirty-four years after my high school experience I had to send my son Kareem to the same school system in the hope that it had improved. serious. We found the education in these schools most unsatisfactory. In effect. The victory of Egypt in the 1956 Suez war gave rise to a feeling of national pride and confidence. but later accepted. but all that ended when he had to go to the public high school. but then lost contact with him after we graduated from school. being an amiable boy with gentle demeanor and looks. which he initially resented.

free. At that time it was the only university in the Middle East. twelve years after its establishment. Until the beginning of World War II. The atmosphere there was invigorating. The number of students in all the departments at the time I joined was only seventy and that enhanced the close relationship and the quality of discussions between the professors and the students. In addition to the good life that Cairo offered at that time. determination and initiative to conduct it. She had to give him extracurricular reading material to open his horizons and to introduce him to the cultures of the world. the examination of the senior students of the faculty of science at Cairo University was set and graded jointly with the University of London. No wonder that Cairo University. my years in the university were beneficial and enjoyable. and conducive to broadening the student’s horizons. His mother did for Kareem what the Boys’ Department of the YMCA had done for me in my youth. Postgraduate degree dissertations were examined abroad and many of the promotions of the faculty of science professors were made on the recommendation of professors from the most prestigious universities of the world. In my senior year I was the only student in the geology special degree program and very frequently I took my classes in the office of the professor. I joined the geology department of the faculty of science on the recommendation of Salama Musa. had among its staff some of the most reputable names in science.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 29 French later on. Most of my professors were Europeans and truly the best in their fields. At the time I enrolled in it the Egyptian university was a truly advanced institute of learning that was able to attract some of the best and internationally known professors. Research in those days was possible for anyone with the will. In contradistinction to my gloomy years in high school. The Egyptian university had well equipped laboratories and a good library. It was indeed comparable to any European or American university. the great literary writer who used to lec- THE FORMATIVE YEARS | 29 . many reputable European professors joined the new Egyptian university knowing that they would not be hampered from carrying out their scientific research. and in particular the faculty of science at the time I joined it. I enrolled in the faculty of science at Cairo University in 1937.

30 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . He frequently referred to it in his lectures and he pioneered in writing many articles and books about it in Arabic. which offers one of the most convincing pieces of evidence for the theory of evolution. Salama Musa was fascinated with this theory. especially when I determined to look up the meaning of unfamiliar words in the dictionary. among whom was the wellknown Egyptian novelist and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. He was fluent in several languages and had an insatiable appetite for reading books about different world cultures and civilizations. I remember being in awe at Salama Musa’s stupendous knowledge as he gave his weekly lectures at the YMCA. Bertrand Russell. He showed interest in my career and encouraged me to express myself in writing. Salama Musa was a well-known writer who had a literary salon that met every Thursday and was attended by many intellectuals. to join the geology department. he came to the railway station to bid me goodbye before I took the train to Port Said and from there the ship to Europe. In the 1940s he published my first article in al-Magalla al-gadida. a Fabian socialist. Salama contributed a great deal to my education. the monthly literary magazine that he edited. J. and a firm believer in science and its logic. H. he surpassed anyone else of his generation.G. These books became affordable with the appearance of the paper editions that the Penguin Publishing House started to print during the years of World War II. Salama Musa was a liberal thinker. Sigmund Freud. Frazer. In that respect. The reading of these books also gave me a better grip of the English language. and many others.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 30 ture at the YMCA in which I had become a member after my graduation from the Boys’ Department at the age of sixteen. or the study of fossil remains. I read books by Bernard Shaw. Wells.G. He wanted me to excel in science. Aldous Huxley. My relationship with him gradually strengthened and he showed interest in coaching me. especially after I had been accepted as a student in the faculty of science. and to specialize in paleontology. My relationship with Salama Musa was such that when I was sent to Switzerland to start my postgraduate studies in 1945. He also encouraged me to read and introduced me to books that I would have never known about had it not been for him.

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Events That Shaped My Formative Years
If I were to choose specific events that left an impact on me, determined
my attitudes in life, and stimulated my interest in public affairs I would
choose three sets of events. The first pertains to the revolution of 1919
that strove for the independence of Egypt. It unified the nation under
the leadership of the Wafd Party, the first grassroots movement in the
history of Egypt, and resulted in the promulgation of the 1923 constitution, which introduced new principles that regulated the relationship
between the government and the people. The second set of events came
with the onset of World War II and the years that followed until the revolution of the army in 1952. These events changed Egypt’s demographic,
social, and political structure. The third set of events came with the rise
of the movement of the religious right, which reached its zenith during
the seventies of the twentieth century. This last movement played a key
role in changing the mood of the country and the course of many events
in modern Egypt. On each of these watershed sets of events I would like
to expound.

The 1923 Constitution and the Wafd Party
The ratification of the 1923 constitution represented a turning point in
Egyptian modern history and crowned the struggle of many generations
of Egyptians who strove to take their future in their own hands. It generated hope among the people and gave them the feeling that they were
embarking on a new and more secure life under the institutions it had
established. For the first time in their history they were assured the right
to participate in the governance of their own country. The constitution
was inspired by the principles of the French Revolution and was modeled
after Europe’s constitutions. It put all power in the hands of the people,
constrained the authority of the king, and made their leaders accountable for their deeds. There was a separate legislative body elected by
popular vote totally independent of the executive branch of government.

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The right to appoint a government, which was the exclusive prerogative
of the king, was given to the people.
The constitution embodied the aspirations of the national awakening
movement of the 1919 revolution. Its articles were secular in spirit,
emphasizing the national rather than the religious aspect of the state.
They were accepted and passed by the overwhelming majority of members of the drafting committee, including the members representing the
religious institutions, after a compromise article was added designating
“Islam as the religion of the state.”
The vast majority of the people hailed the constitution and looked
forward to its implementation. The Wafd party, which formed a popular
movement that rallied around its leader Sa‘d Zaghlul, welcomed it with
great fervor despite the fact that the party was not represented on its
drafting committee. Some, however, did not look favorably on the new
constitution. Foremost among them was the king, who viciously resisted
the changes it had brought about which restrained his authority. He
impeded its implementation, harassed the Wafd party, which used to win
a sweeping majority in every election, and frequently rejected to abide by
its articles. He encouraged and gave support to the religious right, the
majority of whose members looked with suspicion at the new constitution because of its secular slant. According to a minority of its extreme
members the constitution was an apostasy that needed to be abolished
altogether because Muslims needed no constitution written by man
since they have their God-sent Qur’an.
On the liberal side there was a feeling of unease with regard to the
article specifying the religion of Egypt. That feeling turned into outrage when some members of the religious right used this article as a
pretext to express their authority and to ban books and punish their
authors. Two books that carried the brunt of the onslaught in the
1920s were Taha Husayn’s Pre-Islamic Poetry and ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq’s
Islam and the Fundamentals of Government. Taha Husayn’s book deviated
from the traditional narration of the history of Islam and its origins.
‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq’s book attempted to show that the caliphate system
is not an essential part of an Islamic government. The book was writ-

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ten to discredit the basis upon which the king of Egypt wanted to
claim the caliphate after its abolition in Turkey in 1923. The stand of
the religious right against these two books, written by two of the most
distinguished scholars that Egypt had ever seen, caused a great stir at
the time. It prompted Taha Husayn to write his classic book Science and
Religion in 1929 in which he objected to any interference from the clergy in the affairs of the state. In that book he lashed out at the members of the drafting committee of the constitution because they had
accepted the inclusion of an article that labeled the state with a particular religion. In his words it had done nothing but cause schism
within the Muslim community.
The period that elapsed from the ratification of the constitution in
1923 to the revolution of 1952 was marked by the determined fight that
the king, the minority parties, and the religious right waged against the
populist Wafd party. During that period the king frequently used his
authority to dissolve parliament and to discharge the majority Wafd government from office. Not a single parliament during this period finished
its term and there is even one that was dissolved on the very day it was
elected (the parliament of March 12, 1925). Many stayed for less than a
year. The Wafd party, which won the majority of seats in every election
that was conducted during the thirty-year period between 1923 and 1952
(with the exception of the 1938 elections that it boycotted), was only
allowed to stay in power for a total of less than seven years. Its government was frequently discharged before its term in office had expired.
The longest time it stayed in office was during World War II (1942–1945)
upon the insistence of the British, who wanted to assure the stability of
Egypt during the war years.
The Wafd party enjoyed the sweeping support of the masses. My
family was a strong advocate of the party’s goals of independence and the
institution of democracy. It was unflappably loyal to its leaders Sa‘d
Zaghoul and his successor Mustafa al-Nahas. It sided with Mustafa alNahas in every dissension that took place within the party’s rank and file.
It stood firm with him after the exit of eight of its leading members in
the late 1920s and after the dissension of the Ahmad Maher Nuqrashi

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group in the late 1930s and of Makram ‘Ibayd in the early 1940s. My family frowned upon the dissenters and regarded them as having betrayed
the cause of the people and having ceded power to the camp of the king
and the enemies of democracy. The dissension of Makram ‘Ibayd in particular was a grievous event to my family. Makram ‘Ibayd was a Copt who
had achieved great prominence in the Wafd party hierarchy. His presence at the helm of the party symbolized the principle of national unity.
His dissension and alliance with the king and the minority parties was a
setback to that principle. It also gave credibility to the enemies of the
Wafd, especially after the publication of ‘Ibayd’s Black Book in which he
related incidents of corruption that were alleged to have happened when
the Wafd party was in power. The book ignited great fury in my family
as it harmed and weakened the Wafd party at a time when it most needed to stand strong against the fascist and anti-democratic forces that
started to appear in the political arena during World War II.
My family’s confidence in the Wafd party under the leadership of
Mustafa al-Nahas was almost unconditional. It supported every action
it took, even those that raised controversy. It did not subscribe to the
criticism that was leveled against the Anglo-Egyptian treaty that the
Wafd and the representatives of other parties had signed with the
British in 1936. My family considered the treaty a step toward independence and did not accede to the ideas of the extreme nationalists
that it was a capitulation to the British. My family also remained supportive of Mustafa al-Nahas when he was forced upon King Faruq to
become the prime minister by the British, who besieged the royal
palace with their tanks in February 1942. My family was not particularly happy about the British action and was sorry to see the Wafd’s government installed by a British ultimatum to the king. Nevertheless it
did not discredit the Wafd party and put the blame for this action on
the king, whose frivolity had brought this embarrassment. In fact, my
family thought that the return of al-Nahas to power in 1942 restored
legitimacy to the government and stability to the country. This unfortunate event, together with the concessions that the Wafd party started to make to the king, distorted and weakened the image of the party

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in the eyes of many youths. However, the party continued to have
sweeping support among the masses until I left Egypt in 1945.
The patriotism that the 1919 revolution brought about was tolerant,
secular, and open to the world and its cultures. The constitution was
inspired by principles that were derived from Europe after its egress
from the Middle Ages. It emphasized the principles of the nation state,
the empowerment of the masses, and the respect for the individual’s
rights and freedoms. These principles were the result of the triumph of
the Enlightenment movement that flourished in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and which emphasized human reason
and led to new forms of government free of tyranny. My early exposure
to this civilization was through the lectures of Salama Musa, who introduced me to the thoughts of the giant philosophers of the
Enlightenment movement: Hume, Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Kant.
My sister In‘am contributed to my appreciation of its ways.
This openness to Europe in particular and to Western civilization in
general did not cause any problems to me or to the vast majority of the
members of my generation. It was our feeling that the only path to
progress open to Egypt was to embrace Western principles based on reason and the logic of science; the salvation of Egypt lay in joining the
mainstream of progress that had been initiated in Europe since the
Enlightenment. In fact, it was our belief that Egypt had slipped behind
when it had isolated itself from the mainstream of civilization.
Personally I considered civilization, which we mistakenly dub as
“Western,” as a universal phenomenon that is the cumulative product of
past human experience. Egyptians have as much stake in it as
Westerners. Their grandfathers were its founders and the Islamic civilization was its precursor. The Islamic civilization, which had its golden
age in the tenth and eleventh centuries, was responsible for saving the
ancient Greek heritage, which was on the verge of disappearance when
it was abandoned in medieval Europe and deemed heretic. The Arabic
translations of ancient Greek and Latin works that were embraced by
the Islamic civilization in its heyday became the only source that made
this heritage available to Europe during its renaissance.

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together with a translation of a section that I extracted from the Ikhwan’s “letters. It also made me sympathetic to the call that was raised in the late 1920s to boycott British goods and to buy locally manufactured products instead. and able to deal with it with absolute parity and no feelings of inferiority.” The paper was published in the leading American Journal of Science in 1950. and the writings of the Ikhwan al-Safa. my generation adopted a world view that called for the upholding of Western methods while preserving our own national heritage. I was of the belief that this admiration was a way to express that veneration and love. As I sat listening to Professor Bryan’s lectures I became convinced that he alone was the real scion of the great Islamic civilization. started many years before.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 36 While studying at Harvard in the late 1940s I was struck by the similarity of Professor Kirk Bryan’s lectures in geomorphology and the evolution of landscape. This awareness fueled my patriotism and made me a faithful supporter of the nationalist movement that was led by the Wafd party. and not the present-day descendants of that civilization. Professor Bryan was surprised when I told him of the closeness of his lectures on geomorphology to those of Ikhwan al-Safa. On the contrary. Raised at a time of national movements that sought independence and freedom. My admiration for Western civilization did not detract from my veneration for my heritage or my love for my country. I was also cognizant of how this occupation aborted Egypt’s budding democratic experiment and its industrialization attempts. which they thought was continuously changing as a result of the action of the elements. a group of Arab scholars who lived in Baghdad in the tenth century. The call aimed at helping the fledgling local industry so that it could 36 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . The Ikhwan wrote several letters in which they speculated on the origin of the landscape. My understanding of the history of Western civilization made me comfortable with it. He asked me to publish this observation which I did. I was aware of the vile methods the Western powers had used to expand their empires and to prepare for the British occupation of Egypt in 1882. Neither did this admiration prevent me from seeing the ugly aspects of Western civilization and the havoc it had wreaked on the countries that were conquered under its guise.

The manufacture of this national headwear in a foreign country was an insult that the project aimed to correct. The problems were convincingly treated by the use of a new analytic method and the meetings were very congenial. Before then that literature had been totally banned and it was against the law to carry it or even talk about it.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 37 grow and achieve the goal of re-industrializing Egypt. In the years of my graduate study at the faculty of science I was exposed to Marxist literature.” I was twelve years old when I went from house to house asking people to contribute their piasters to the project. Many of my colleagues were intrigued and fascinated by it and devoted themselves to its propagation. They offered a milieu to connect with other concerned people who were also seeking solutions to these problems. The factory was built in the ‘Abbasiya district in Cairo in the mid 1930s. the national headwear of Egyptians at that time. Until then the fez had been imported from Austria. The money was later used to build a factory to manufacture the fez (tarboosh). I was introduced to Marxist theory by some of my colleagues who supplied me with its literature. As a result of that call a youth movement under the leadership of Ahmad Husayn (who became later the leader of the fiercely nationalistic movement of Misr al-Fatat) was formed to accumulate capital by collecting piasters (a coin worth one hundredth of an Egyptian pound) for the purpose of building factories. The Marxist theory seemed to give an explanation for the many ills of society and to offer a credible and coherent solution for them. The meetings dealt with many of the social problems that had started to beset Egypt and adversely affect its middle class during the World War II years. an important goal of the national movement for independence. Its emphasis on the scientific method and on the ideas of social justice THE 1923 CONSTITUTION AND THE WAFD PARTY | 37 . My older brother Nagib and I joined the “piaster project. which became available in Egypt for the first time in 1941 after the Soviet Union had entered the war with the allies. and invited me to attend the weekly meetings they held in the Dar al-Abhath al-’Ilmiya (Scientific Research Forum) on the ground floor of an apartment building that they had rented in the Munira district in Cairo.

The gallant resistance and the great sacrifices that the people of the Soviet Union had put up against Germany during World War II added to our admiration of the theory. landowners. college. artisans. They were able to build a grassroots movement that reached every corner of the country and attracted every group. For many years. Among the most significant achievements of the revolution was the open-armed acceptance and total integration of the Copts in the national body politic. but I declined after the first meeting. Their stringent discipline and total submission to doctrine were contrary to the principle of freedom of thought and movement that was basic to my liberal upbringing. or at the beginning of my professional 38 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . but very soon I realized that they were also intended to attract the youth to join clandestine Marxist organizations that were being actively formed at the time. government employees. In Cairo. that acceptance was complete.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 38 made it very attractive indeed. The 1919 revolution and the 1923 constitution were watershed events in Egypt’s modern history. the Munira meetings looked innocent to me. Its leaders were keen to reach out to everyone to uphold their call for independence and democratic rule. It was my good fortune to have had my formative years during this period. The revolution unified the nation behind principles that seemed to have had universal support. professionals. As a Copt I was not treated differently at school. until the end of World War II. Almost all the university professors and students that I met were sympathetic to its ideas. When I went to Europe immediately after World War II I found that the theory had seized the attention of the intellectuals of that continent. Farmers. and it was not considered politically correct or even in good taste to talk in public about anyone’s religious affiliation. Some of my colleagues tried to lure me into joining these organizations. Although I escaped from the grip of these organizations. clergymen. which offered a coherent theory capable of explaining the development of human societies and the forces that shape them. when I did not feel discriminated against because of my religion. there is no denying that I benefited from Marxist thought. and others were united under its banner.

Immigration from the countryside to the cities increased and Cairo became an overcrowded and considerably dirtier metropolis. Acts of discrimination were flagrantly perpetrated without any feeling of shame or remorse. resulting in widespread corruption at levels that had never been seen before.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 39 career. In Egypt the change was so radical that the country I came back to was totally different from the one I had left behind. It made basic goods unaffordable to the majority of Egyptians. Nightclubs and cabarets became part of the scene of the streets of the city. Prostitution grew into a large industry to serve the hundreds of thousands of young male soldiers of the Allies who roamed the streets of Cairo. However. I graduated with first class honors from college and was chosen to go abroad at the expense of the Egyptian government on a mission to further my education. WORLD WAR II AND THE REVOLUTION OF 1952 | 39 . Its services and housing could not meet the needs of its new population. Drug dealers. contraband smugglers. upon my return from that mission in 1951 I found that the mood of the country had changed and that the principle of the equality of all citizens irrespective of their religion had been challenged. Almost anyone who was able to offer a service or fulfill a need to this army or its hundreds of thousands of troops became rich. World War II and the Revolution of 1952 The years I spent abroad (1945–1951) were crucial years in the history of modern Egypt as well as the entire Arab world. Its social order had been shaken by the rise of a new social class of wealthy Egyptians who had been able to exploit the new opportunities that had opened up with the exceptional increase in demand for goods and services by the allied army that was stationed in Egypt during the years of World War II. and black market racketeers were among the members of the new social class. Inflation skyrocketed during the war years and the years that followed it. Many made their fortune by less than honorable means that had become more accessible as a result of the economic disruption that came with war.

clubs. 1952. Those doubts intensified when the revolution unceremoniously decided to annul the constitution and retire all political parties except for the Muslim Brotherhood party. as well as many businesses. who barricaded the university premises and led to the closure of the university and the interruption of education. this atmosphere of increasing tension and furor was no different. after a very hurried and dubious trial. The British occupation continued. unknown. The state of Israel was established after the defeat of the combined armies of Egypt and other Arab countries by a few gangs of Zionist zealots who did not even have a flag. in July 1952. despite the promise that it would end immediately after the war. but 40 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . where I started to teach upon my return from my mission in 1951. Within six months of the conflagration the army revolution broke out. In the University of Cairo (which was then called Fuad I University). The defeat led to a great furor in the Arab World and especially in Egypt. During that year.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 40 During the years of my absence. and restaurants that were owned or frequented by foreigners. These closures were so frequent that the 1951–1952 academic year shrank to only a few weeks. on January 26. I was in the United States during the summer of 1952 when I heard the news about the revolution that had taken place in Egypt in July. the great conflagration of Cairo took place that resulted in the destruction of the famous and historic Shepheard’s Hotel. did not help matters. The execution of two textile workers in Kafr al-Dawar for going on strike. the political order was also shaken by the many setbacks that the government had suffered and which resulted in the loss of its credibility and even its legitimacy. There were demonstrations that erupted for days on end and were quashed by the police force. where an atmosphere of anger and rebellion filled the air. and inexperienced officers. The vast majority of Egyptians met the revolution with relief. although many people had some doubts about the intentions of the young. The conflagration created an environment of great tension that culminated in the firing of the Wafd cabinet under the leadership of Mustafa al-Nahas and the institution of martial law and a dusk to dawn curfew in Cairo that lasted for close to a whole month.

I did not consider the change a good omen and I started to worry that Egypt might be on its way to a military dictatorship. Switzerland. especially that which was championed by the Muslim Brotherhood. My first reaction to the news was very positive. My life in Egypt during the year before had convinced me that the system of government in Egypt had reached a dead end. It had also lost the support of the outside world. It had THE RISE OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IN EGYPT | 41 . The rise of corruption and the frivolity of the playful King Faruq made the government inept and ineffective. There I read the news about the resignation of the interim civilian cabinet that had taken the reins of power after the revolution in Egypt and the installment of a cabinet that was dominated by army officers. My worries about the future of democracy in Egypt increased when I read the list of the members of the new cabinet and found no Copt among them. played almost no role in the political life of the country or in the making of its public opinion. Its news did not attract the attention of the media in the United States and it went unnoticed by a nation that was thoroughly preoccupied with the Republican convention that was being held at that time and which was to nominate General Dwight Eisenhower for the presidency. Prior to my departure. I resumed my teaching at the university in the fall of 1952 under extremely tense conditions as a result of the campaign that the government embarked upon to purge from the university any supporters of the king or enemies of the revolution. The Rise of the Religious Right in Egypt One of the most obvious changes that took place during my six years of absence from Egypt was the rise of the Islamic religious right.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 41 had very little information about it. I came back to Egypt in September via Zurich. Everyone was expecting a change. many abused the situation to settle old animosities. This campaign led to intrigues and vengeful acts among the university professors. this current of fundamentalist Islam. where I stayed for a few days. It had lost all credibility and the support of practically all segments of the population.

Several factors. The phenomenon had significantly changed the mood of the country. their living conditions lack the spaciousness that could alleviate the frustrations and inconveniences of overcrowding. who became quite visible in the wake of the massive migration to the cities that had taken place during World War II. Their members are taught to obey their assigned leaders and to follow strict rules that are intended to drill into them the belief that they live in a hostile and unjust world of non-believers who do not wish them 42 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . they are more prone to suffering during times of crises. especially among the university students. civil liberties. combined to effect such a change. They do not live among an extended family that can provide them with support and their access to food is not as easy. I was struck upon my return to Egypt by the new phenomenon of the rise of this current fundamentalist strain of Islam. This makes them easy prey for extremist movements. I believe. unlike the rural poor. which are still reverberating to this day. constitution. and national unity. Historically Egypt’s urban poor have been the reservoir that has fueled extremist movements in Egypt. whose history goes back to the Middle Ages when Ibn Taymiya (1263–1328). Islam seemed to offer the only strategy that could effectively stand against the new Jewish state. This led many Egyptians to strongly embrace the ideas of the religious right as a substitute for the nationalist and secular ideas of their failed leadership. laid down their foundation with his fatwas (religious edicts).Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 42 no place in the midst of the rising and sweeping current of nationalism and patriotism that under the leadership of the Wafd party spearheaded issues of independence. Many of the sons of these migrants who went to college embraced that fanatic current to vent their frustration as they faced unemployment in the years of depression that followed World War II. They are secretive and have a jargon of their own awash with slogans. All these movements share common traits. Its call found support among the urban poor. the Muslim theologian. The most important of these was the general state of despair that had prevailed in the aftermath of the humiliating defeat of 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel. The urban poor are more likely to join these movements because.

Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 43 well. In many instances. This repugnant and well-planned act occurred in an age when means of communication were quite primitive and caused the sultan a great degree of alarm. in all the universities. This it did with astounding success. things did not work out that way. The incident was dubbed by the famous historian al-Maqrizi (1364–1442) in his well-known Khitat as “the incident of the churches. Some were card-carrying members of the Brotherhood while others were sympathetic to its cause. After the establishment of the state of Israel and the dispossession of the Palestinians the Brotherhood movement gained support from among other strata of the society.” In it the members of the “brotherhood. The keeping up of this solidarity. which they directed to propagate the Brotherhood’s principles and to finance its underground operations and the training and indoctrination of its recruits. therefore.” after one Friday prayer. if not overwhelming. and starting from the 1940s the movement’s presence became very obvious. Ironically. THE RISE OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IN EGYPT | 43 . Similar incidents took place occasionally at later times during periods of crises and bad governments. wreaked severe destruction and burned practically all the churches of Egypt from Alexandria to Aswan simultaneously. is dependent. It established a seemingly strong presence in the army. however. especially university students. Many of the army officers who joined the Free Officers Movement that was responsible for the revolution of 1952 were influenced in one way or another by its ideas. to a large extent. In more recent times the Muslim Brotherhood movement concentrated its efforts on indoctrinating and winning the loyalty of youth. on a continuous effort to spread hatred and suspicion of the other. To overcome these ill wishes the members are told to stick together and foster their feeling of “brotherhood” and solidarity. as happened in the first violent incident that was perpetrated by a forerunner of the modern Brotherhood in 1321 during the reign of the Mamluk Sultan Qalawun. many rulers throughout history have encouraged these movements in the hope that they might be able to use them to defuse any imminent anger that could be directed against them and redirect it to the other. Members belonging to the movement controlled the students’ unions and their funds.

The story of this encounter is of significance. ‘Abd al-Rahman. According to Dr. They held a disproportionately large number of government jobs because they were favored by their co-religionists the British. it would be understandable why such a graduate would have an unclear and skewed opinion of people of other religions. they were almost an unknown entity for many of the army officers who were responsible for the revolution. They graduated from schools and worked at jobs that did not expose them to any Copt. I remember hearing one of the members of that council expressing his doubts about the Copts’ loyalty to Egypt. This statement had been repeatedly told by members of the extreme religious groups despite its demonstrable falseness. the renowned late minister of planning. The true reason behind the Copts holding many government jobs 44 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS . Ibrahim Hilmi ‘Abd al-Rahman. It led him to develop many strong and lifelong friendships with Copts. such as the Police or Military academies. His secondary schooling had been in a ministry of waqf school in Cairo that likewise had no Copt among its student body or staff. was to enter a college that had no Coptic presence. one can understand why some members of the Revolutionary Council regarded the Copts as a minority of no consequence or one that should be regarded with suspicion and distrust. mentions in a recent article that he wrote to the literary magazine al-Hilal that his first encounter with a Copt took place when he went to college. ‘Abd al-Rahman this exposure was crucial in getting to know and respect the other. The analogy here is clear. His elementary education took place in a village school in Sharqiya province that did not have a single Copt. They had little contact with them. This made the Copts an “ambiguous” group of people who had to be treated with caution. Dr.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 44 When they took over the reigns of power they helped propagate its ideas as a substitute for the liberal and secular principles that prevailed in Egypt until the beginning of World War II. His exposure to the religious other took place only when he entered the faculty of science and found out that Copts and Jews did not only form a good part of the student body but also of the teaching staff. As for the Copts. With this backdrop. If a student with a background similar to that of Dr.

their civilian advisor. and which I had first encountered when I came back from my mission in 1951. alluded to this relationship in his book Modern Egypt. The relationship between the British and the Copts has been historically one of intense hatred and animosity. who represented the British crown in Egypt and was its effective ruler for many years after the British occupation in 1882. Cairo). however. The predicament was finally resolved after many weeks when they resorted to Fathi Radwan. It caused great damage to the bond between Muslims and Copts and brought about a feeling of alienation and non-acceptance among the Coptic minority. who suggested the name of his colleague Farid Antun who was finally appointed the minister of supply in that cabinet. I know that many people will find this statement shocking and will deny that the bond between Muslims and Christians had been affected. where he fervently described the Copts’ rancor against the British. The graduates of these newly established schools formed the only pool that the British could draw from to fill the newly created jobs in their administration. left a great impact on me. The new atmosphere that had been brought about by the rise of the religious right. and will remind me of the oft-repeated slogans of unity between Copts and Muslims. Ministry of Culture.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 45 at the time was that they had pioneered in establishing civil schools that taught foreign languages during the time of Patriarch Kirollos IV (1854–1861). There is no better example to show the extent of the distrust between the two than the Copts’ staunch stand against the British during the 1919 revolution. clearly points to the increasing tenuousness of this unity. published by the Egyptian General Book Authority. Copts are distanced from sensitive political positions and are excluded from sitting on policy-making committees and from THE RISE OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IN EGYPT | 45 . Tareq al-Bishri in his book Muslims and Christians in the Context of National Unity gives historical evidence to show that it was the British who started job discrimination against the Copts (pp 110ff. The reality. Lord Cromer. An incident that may show how little the members of the Revolutionary Council knew about the Copts occurred when they failed to suggest the name of a single Copt to join the new cabinet that was being constituted in the fall of 1952. 1980 Arabic Edition.

They are not trusted even to carry the diplomatic pouches in the ministry of foreign affairs. the police. The subtlety of this non-violent discrimination makes it imperceptible to many people who have not suffered it. 46 | THE FORMATIVE YEARS .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 46 occupying positions of trust such as those in the presidency. the army. I believe that this may be the reason why some of the most decent people deny its existence. or the intelligence agencies. these events have become acceptable and no one seems to think that they are worthy of consideration or discussion. the media. Strangely.

Graduates of the newly established faculty of science were expected to work as high school science teachers or as officers in the few newly built departments that controlled the quality or authenticity of materials such as the chemical laboratories or the bureau of standards. My first class honors degree qualified me for a teaching fellowship at the university. My years of service extended from 1941. Egypt was primarily dependent on traditional agriculture. the severe recession that accompanied the World War II years did not allow the university to offer me that posi- THE BEGINNINGS OF MY PRACTICAL LIFE | 47 . Fuad I University (now the University of Cairo). 1941–1978 T his chapter contains some recollections of my work in the field of geology during my years of service in the university and in the Egyptian Geological Survey and Mining Organization. which had little place for science. At the time of my graduation science played little if any role in the life of Egypt. The Beginnings of My Practical Life I started my career in geology immediately after my graduation in 1941.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 47 3 Ventures in Science My Years at the University and the Mining Organization. until 1978. when I resigned from my post as head of the geological survey. when I graduated from the faculty of science. However.

who had just come back from his mission in England and who had impressed me by his zeal for learning and love of research. as a result of the entrance of Italy into the war against the Allies and the subsequent sequestration of its holdings and the detention of its nationals in Egypt. The company was left without any leadership or employees. The lifeline of the company com- 48 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . if any.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 48 tion and I had great difficulty in finding a job. The job market that was open for geologists at that time was so limited that it could not provide an opening for the two graduates of the 1941 class of the only geology department in the country. albeit not the one I was hoping for. My heart was set on pursuing my graduate studies and preparing myself for a career in scientific research. One of these holdings was the Red Sea Phosphate Company. which was extracting phosphate rock from the mountains overlooking the Red Sea at the town of Qusayr. ‘Ali Mustafa Musharrafa. The dean recommended my colleague Mustafa ‘Izzat and myself for the jobs. Less than two years after starting my work in the mining company I was finally appointed as a teaching instructor in the university in March of 1943. That was how fate and unusual circumstances offered me a job. I maintained strong ties with my professors. and more importantly to the sad condition of the Egyptian worker and the exploitation he was being subjected to. The sequestergeneral appealed to the dean of the faculty of science. Looking back at the two years I spent working for the Qusayr phosphate company I realize that they were among the most instructive years of my career. and to this end I had enrolled in the university as a postgraduate student and registered for the degree of master of science. especially Dr. The mining and oil industries were run by foreign companies and their operations were extractive in nature offering few. Nasri Shukri. all its jobs down to the level of foreman had been in the hands of Italians. The career I was hoping for had just begun. the intricacies of the application of science in industry. to recommend geologists to him to replace the Italian staff who had been detained. opportunities for employment. however. The experience opened my eyes to the practical realities of life. An opportunity availed itself. The economy was dominated by traditional agriculture.

tea. The wage was two and a half piasters a day (equal to 10 US cents at the exchange rate of that day) paid for days of work only. and cheap canned food. The only thing the company offered the worker was shelter in squalid communal dormitories and a ration of half a gallon of water a day. With the exception of the nominal taxes that went into the coffers of the Egyptian government and the handsome handouts that went to the few influential Egyptians who sat on the board of the company to facilitate its dealings with the Egyptian government. The mining operations of the Qusayr company were mostly underground and many of the mines were quite deep. Needless to say. compensations. The company extracted the phosphate rock using semi-mechanized methods. This frequently took an hour and was not considered paid work time.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 49 prised scores of itinerant workers who were brought from their villages in Upper Egypt to work underground in the deep phosphate mines. the resultant disintegrated ore was collected by hand into containers and then put in wagons that were hoisted by a winch along a rail line to the surface. The worker was not allowed to bring with him his wife or family. The company was clearly making money hand over fist. Water was a very dear commodity in the desert area of Qusayr. there were no severance payments. such as flour. The workday was eight hours. Most of that money went outside the country. not counting the time it took the worker to go down to the mine and up again. worth 220 Egyptian pounds at that time. THE BEGINNINGS OF MY PRACTICAL LIFE | 49 . or pensions. and he was allowed to visit them once a year or at the end of his service with the company. The workers had no insurance of any form and the company had the right to terminate the employment of any worker at any time with no questions asked or explanations offered. The average annual wage of the worker was a meager eight pounds. These methods allowed the worker to produce an average of 110 tones of ore annually. sugar. There was a very modest grocery store that sold the bare necessities to sustain life. Most workers became unfit for this hard work and were in poor health before they reached the age of thirty-five. After exploding the walls of the mine. little was reinvested in Egypt or used to improve the conditions of its working people. who were left behind in the village.

Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 50 Travel in the desert at the time I started my career was an enormous undertaking. who were not allowed to move outside the valley of the Nile. which was forbidden land for Egyptians. The agricultural land was almost wholly owned by a small number of families who spent their wealth lavishly and ostentatiously. there was the box at the back of the truck. or communication of any kind. a country of oppressed and beleaguered people who were forced to live within the boundaries of the narrow valley of the Nile and were not allowed to go beyond it into the expanses of the desert without a permit (the permit that was issued to me by the intelligence agency in 1941 to allow me to visit the Muqattam area outside Cairo is reproduced in the picture section). which had no roads. For everybody else. The two seats next to the driver were reserved for them. The truck was commissioned by the postal service to carry the mail and the few government officials whose misfortune took them to the remote desert posts. including the loads of itinerant labor that had been hired to work the few mines in the desert. 50 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . Going to Qusayr was a feat that took one on a train to Qena. maps. Wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few. public transportation. Not a pretty picture to say the least. Economic expansion was dismal and prospects for employment were entirely dependent upon one’s connections. and from there on a dilapidated overhauled truck that used to leave Qena every Wednesday to the Red Sea coast. amassing great profits that were spirited abroad. The trucks had thin tires and were not equipped with four-wheel drive gear. the few industries were in the hands of foreigners. Second there were the hardships that came with travel in the desert wasteland. First there was the hassle of getting a permit to visit the desert. Driving a truck of 1930s or 1940s vintage on an unpaved road required great skill and experience. My work in the company showed me Egypt as it was at the beginning of my practical career. My first trip to Qusayr and my earlier trips to the Bahariya and Farafra oases were enormous feats that required extensive planning and preparation. they could easily get stuck if driven on a soft substratum.

six colleagues and I were on our way to Europe to pursue our graduate studies. We were loaded with luggage. which we lugged on the train that took us to Port Said. They were a boisterous group of people who indulged THE UNIVERSITY | 51 . Shortly after my appointment in the faculty of science in Cairo I was selected to go on a scholarship to pursue my graduate studies abroad. a mere seventy students were admitted to the only faculty of science in the country that year. Commercial air travel was in its infancy and was almost unknown. Most European universities had been severely affected by the war and we were sent to study in neutral Switzerland. That year saw the opening of another university in Alexandria to which was added a faculty of science in 1942. The ship was old and in a dilapidated condition.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 51 The University My Scholarship Years Abroad My appointment in the faculty of science came at a time when university education started to expand under popular pressure. but that was not to materialize until after the end of World War II. which was carrying French and Senegalese soldiers who were going back home after the war. There were a few of these at the time we wanted to travel and the only available one was a French steamer that was stopping at Port Said on its way to France from the Far East. The journey from Egypt to Europe was made by steamers. There were few universities to choose from at that time. It was making its last trip to France. In June 1945. some of which started to resume their regular service immediately after the war. where it was destined to be scrapped. Until the time I joined the university as a student in 1937 higher education had been available only to a few. Going to Europe at that time was an arduous undertaking. We were the only Egyptians on board the ship. and the number of enrollees started to grow steadily. It had obviously been overused during the war years as it ferried passengers and cargo in the seas of the Far East. That number started to increase in 1938. barely six weeks after the end of the war in Europe. and from there on board the ship.

we were able to get a ride to the railway station.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 52 themselves in drinking and gambling during the six days’ trip to Marseilles. Things were better and more organized in Switzerland. From there we went to look for a cab. and a letter of acceptance from the institution of learning we were supposed to join. The Europe we saw at that time was pitiful. where we took the train to Geneva. The following day we went to the Egyptian Education Bureau. where I was introduced to the tasty Swiss dish of fondue. The dissertation I wanted to write was in the field of petroleum geology. Its people were in a state of despair. We spent our first night in the hotel “Gar Cornavin. and disgruntlement. as it was rationed and available only to the holders of ration cards. Switzerland.” which lies adjacent to the railway station. but found out that the cab drivers were also on strike. Until the end of World War II 52 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . and shortly after I began my studies in Zurich polytechnic (ETH). I and my colleagues started taking lessons to learn the German language. and the driver of a private car. which had been destroyed by the pro-German French government when they attempted to leave the port to join the Free French movement. Finally. Obviously the first thing we did in Geneva was to have a good meal. disorder. Workers in the port of Marseilles were on strike. after a prolonged bargaining session in fluent French between an Alexandrine Jew who was traveling with us and who was immigrating to France. We could not buy any food in France. a few pertinent addresses. My undergraduate courses and my master’s dissertation that had earned me that degree from Cairo University in 1944 impressed my professors and qualified me to enroll as a doctoral student without any further preparations. where we were advanced a month’s payment of 504 Swiss francs. All that was required of me was to write a dissertation under the supervision of a professor that would meet the standards of the institution. This field was not yet known in European universities. which I was keen to specialize in. As we approached the port of Marseilles we were able to see the partially sunken ships of the French fleet. where we were given ample “food coupons” upon our arrival. We had to unload our heavy luggage from the ship and carry it all the way to the customs and visa office. a railway ticket to Zurich.

They became the scientists who were responsible for the great discoveries and breakthroughs in the earth sciences that took place in later years. Hence I contemplated moving my mission to the United States. The atmosphere in Harvard was invigorating. pleasing. which had shown interest in accepting me. which was far ahead of Europe in that field. At the time I was contemplating moving my mission. these courses had to be passed with honors. I cast the dissertation aside and decided to make a new start in Harvard in the field I was interested in. oil played a minor role as a source of energy. THE UNIVERSITY | 53 . Most of them were veterans who had seen action in the war and had gained great experience. The approval of this transfer took over two years to come from Egypt. When I finally got the approval to transfer. I sent a request to the faculty of science in Cairo asking for the transfer of my mission to Harvard University. By that time I had almost finished writing my dissertation in the field of paleontology under the supervision of Professor Bernard Peyer in Zurich. after a short stop in London.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 53 European industry was still dependent on coal. They were mature and serious and all made great careers. The quality of the students who came to join the graduate school at the time I was there was exceptional. Most of the passengers on that trip were Jews who had made the decision to leave Europe and immigrate to the States in search of a better life. I arrived in New York in February 1948 on the luxury liner the Queen Mary. Work toward a doctoral degree required following several courses related to the field of specialization. the importance of oil from the Middle East had started to become apparent. and conducive to excellence. The United States had been using oil as its main source of energy since the beginning of the twentieth century. I found university in the United States to be totally different from that in Europe. this had led to the development of more efficient industry and an increase in the wealth of the country. An examination conducted by a pantheon of professors would then follow to test the student’s mastery of these courses and to decide whether the student was ready for the writing of the dissertation. The professors gave us a lot of attention and were eager to help at any time we solicited their assistance.

I had learnt its principles as a stu- 54 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 54 The United States was a happy and confident society in the period following the end of World War II. and there were far fewer gadgets to own. Honors. it offered me a monthly payment of $200. Life in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s was less demanding than today. research funds. Communications and transport were such as to force any foreigner who came to the United States almost to sever his connections with his old country. They were basking in the glory of their contributions as confidants and advisors to President Franklin D. Immigration was restricted. I ate at the local delicatessen and was able to afford frequent shopping sprees at the Harvard Co-op. Its professors were devoted and each one of them was a paragon in his field. which were expensive and cumbersome to perform. Communications were made by a dial telephone for local calls and through an operator for long distance calls. Air travel was in its infancy and long distance travel was accomplished mainly by train or ship. The black minority was still discriminated against and was not to be seen anywhere in Harvard or any of the places I frequented. It took more than three weeks on board ship to reach the States from Egypt. and the population of the United States was mainly white and homogenous. and consultations came to their door without their asking and no one had to go through the arduous and sometimes demeaning process of writing proposals to raise funds as is usual today. The music was less noisy and the movies less explicit and more romantic. Roosevelt during the difficult years of the depression and the war. This sum was quite ample to give a student a comfortable life. In addition to paying the tuition. the cars were less fanciful. It came out victorious as a result of its innovative methods of mass production and efficient management that every other nation wanted to emulate. One of the most important tools I gained at Harvard was a deeper understanding of the logic of science. which was quite modest at the time. Harvard was one of the most prestigious centers of learning and serious scholarship in the United States. There was no television and the radio was beamed to local audiences only. The size of the average home was smaller. My scholarship stipend was reasonably generous.

Its sentences were THE UNIVERSITY | 55 . The reason for this dismal failure of the school system is that Arabic is taught through learning to recite from memory pieces of old and archaic literature that have no relevance to the student’s life. At the end of the summer I came back with a book that was written in what I believe was an innovative style in Arabic composition. distinguishing between observation and interpretation and making sure that I did not add one extra word to my writing unless it served a purpose or conveyed an intended meaning. who helped me analyze data and weigh probabilities. I became cognizant of the importance of applying the rules of writing the English language when I attempted to write a comprehensible scientific book in Arabic. It has made my Arabic writing more perspicuous and succinct. The Arabic writing that is taught in schools emphasizes rhyme and flowery expressions over accuracy of meaning. Prior to this I had delivered my lectures exclusively in English. Armed with my notes on the subject and the only available scientific English-Arabic dictionary. which had been given to us in our last year of college. He opened my eyes to the importance of punctuation and helped me to learn its rules. decided that science courses had to be taught in Arabic. and through teaching grammar without referring to its logic. my understanding of the logic of science was greatly enhanced at Harvard when Professor Henry Stetson sat with me and reviewed my doctoral dissertation page by page. and later when I was preparing my master’s degree under the supervision of Dr. Nasri Shukri.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 55 dent at the faculty of science in Cairo. The use of punctuation marks is new to anyone who writes in Arabic. I went to my summer home at Ras al-Barr. a task that Egyptian schools failed to do. Ironically my skill in writing in Arabic has been greatly enhanced by my knowledge of writing proper English. To meet this new challenge I decided to spend the summer preparing myself for this experience and writing an Arabic textbook on paleontology. periods. and continue to fail to do to this day. In 1955 Cairo University. He taught me how to write a scientific paper. where commas. under the insistence of the then minister of higher education Kamal al-Din Husayn. where the Damietta branch of the Nile meets the Mediterranean Sea. and paragraphs are unknown and where linguistic flamboyance supersedes meaning. However.

The group met for two hours every Tuesday at 7:30 a. She was the model of a girl that I was seeking. well read. In my opinion its Arabic translations for the scientific terms remain to this day some of the most dependable. the famous gynecologist and the dean of the faculty of medicine at the time. She was vivacious. A few years later the university reversed its position on the teaching of science courses in Arabic and teaching in English was resumed. The dictionary was published in 1977. from English to Arabic. As fate would have it. The star of this group of scientists was the late Dr. We shared 56 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . she came to Harvard for the academic year 1949/50 to follow the lectures of Professor C. talking and listening to him opened my eyes to the wealth and potential of that language. A bachelor.I. I was chosen to translate the geological entries. The American University in Cairo asked a group of eminent Egyptian scientists to translate the science dictionary. I met Wadad by chance at one of the receptions of the International Students Union and found in her the girl of my dreams.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 56 short and to the point and its text was punctuated and organized in paragraphs. of which we were all members. in the heart of downtown Cairo. Ahmad ‘Ammar. and highly educated. During that year she was enrolled at Radcliffe College. It proved to be a success and I have seen it used as a text in Arab universities from Rabat to Baghdad. published by the Encyclopedia Britannica. in the premises of the Institut d’Egypte. A few years later I had another opportunity to try my hand at science writing in Arabic. The most important and happiest event of my life happened during my time at Harvard when I met my future wife Wadad. Lewis in philosophy as part of her graduate studies toward a doctoral degree that she was pursuing at Bryn Mawr College. I tried to coin Arabic words for the scientific terms as best as I could. Harvard at that time was an all-male institution. He loved Arabic poetry and was a virtuoso of the Arabic language.m. confident. to try to achieve consensus on the translations. where women students who wanted to attend Harvard would enroll. he was always impeccably dressed and had an amicable and amiable personality. Nevertheless the book was the first ever to be written in the Arabic language on this subject.

Wadad was a great support to me and I owe to her a great deal of whatever I have accomplished. Woods Hole is a quaint little town at the southern tip of Cape Cod. 48. In the summer of 1949 I was appointed a research assistant at the world-renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the recommendation of Professor Henry Stetson. in her delicate way. corrected the English and pointed out to me any errors of reasoning that the manuscripts may have had. taught me the basics of logic. THE UNIVERSITY | 57 . The concentration of that number of scientists in this little town gives it an aura of its own. a position I held for the succeeding three summers. Massachusetts. During the second year of my graduate studies at Harvard I was given a teaching fellowship to supervise the lab exercises and the field trips of the freshman baby geology course. The wedding took place in Cairo in 1953. She read and critiqued every manuscript I wrote (including the highly specialized scientific papers). and decided to get married upon our return to Egypt. It is the home of two famous scientific institutions. The samples made the material of my studies during the winter. which she used to teach at the American University in Cairo after obtaining her doctorate in 1951. This was a truly great experience which introduced me to the new science of marine geology and acquainted me with the new techniques that were then being developed to fathom the nature of the bottom of the oceans. Kareem. In summertime they teem with scores of scientists who come to benefit from their magnificent libraries and well-equipped laboratories. and Sawsan. Our marriage was a happy one and resulted in two beautiful children. She also. the Woods Hole Oceanographic and the Marine Biological Laboratory. now 49. There I met practically every scientist who was working on the budding marine sciences and there I also had the culinary experience of the fabulous North Atlantic lobster. roaming the bays and shallow seas around the east coast of America and collecting data and samples from the seabed. This was a very rewarding experience. In addition to giving me a small supplementary income it afforded me the chance to travel in New England and to enjoy and learn more about its magnificent scenery.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 57 mutual admiration and love. During my stay I had the opportunity to use the research vessels of the institution.

The year was one of my most productive scientific periods. The head of the department was exceedingly helpful and was ready to go out of his way to encourage me to accept the post. I achieved quite a degree of fame in my field and started exchanging research results. I found the department exceedingly spacious and well equipped. the faculty club beautiful. which I never stinted in spending on. He told me of a position opening in Mount Holyoke College for the academic year 1950/51. judging from the response I got from colleagues all over the world. which was scheduled for May 1950.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 58 Shortly after passing my preliminaries Professor Kirk Bryan approached me to ask if I was interested in considering a teaching career in the United States. with some of the most prominent scientists in the field. My personal library. It had only two other professors on its staff. I spent the 1950/51 academic year teaching at Mount Holyoke. to which I returned in 1951. The atmosphere was genial. on a regular basis. months after my final doctorate exam. later on it became the basis of the scientific research unit that I established in the faculty of science at Cairo University upon my return from my mission. My Years at the Faculty of Science The small geology department of the faculty of science at Cairo University. my papers seem to have been appreciated. was totally different from the one I had known before leaving Egypt. and the apartment that was offered to me was elegant and within walking distance from the campus. Knowing that Wadad would finish her doctorate in 1951 and that she would not be back in Cairo before then. Professor Bryan asked me to think the matter over and to go and visit the college before making a decision. became unusually large for that field. My teaching load was small and I had ample time to spend in research and the study of the material I had collected from my marine voyages at Woods Hole. I decided to probe the matter and went to visit the college. The research and the field were novel and. I published the results of my research in some of the most prestigious scientific journals. It had been severely impacted by what 58 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE .

All these difficulties notwithstanding. Upon my return. we want to keep the standard of this university as high as any university in the world. who would not under normal circumstances have been offered such positions. “why do you want to associate yourself with these second grade universities? We are sending you on a scholarship to the best university in the world to come back to us as a professor worth his salt. Musharrafa had wished.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 59 had happened to the university in general during the World War II period. This situation led to a shortage of professors to staff the new positions that had suddenly opened up. the dean of the faculty of science at Cairo University. obtained degrees. and returned to staff the universities and achieve greater seniority than I. Musharrafa’s decision delayed my seniority status. I found many of my colleagues had left their jobs and seized the opportunity to join the staff of the new universities. Dr. I was thankful for spending all these years abroad and returning as a professor “worth his salt. old and retired professors. a situation he painstakingly tried to avoid.” Dr. As a result of the shortage in qualified personnel this degree was made sufficient for a university teaching post. Coming back to Cairo University with this background and with a large number of peer-reviewed and oft-quoted scientific papers shocked THE UNIVERSITY | 59 . ‘Ali Mustafa Musharrafa. and put me in a position where several people less scholarly than I sat on committees that judged my scientific worth and determined my promotions. was vehemently opposed to the establishment of new universities. When I protested to Dean Musharrafa. They were later sent abroad for short scholarships. A personal and relevant incident worth mentioning in this regard was the refusal of Dean Musharrafa to transfer me to a teaching position in the newly established Alexandria university in 1944 when I obtained my master’s degree. as well as mediocre graduates. as he felt that Egypt did not have the qualified professors that could staff them. he told me. the Alexandria and the ‘Ayn Shams universities.” as Dr. when most of the European professors had left and when two new universities had been opened. were solicited to fill these openings. He also was of the opinion that any compromise with regard to the standard of the professors would lead to significant deterioration of the quality and standard of education.

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many of my colleagues, who knew little about scientific research or its
methodology. They felt intimidated and were determined to complicate
my life at the university and put all kinds of obstacles in my way.
Adding to the nuisance was the depressing atmosphere that the rising religious right had wrought in the country in general and in the Cairo
University department of geology in particular. A mediocre professor
who happened to be a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood
movement compounded this atmosphere. He was continually complaining about his delayed promotions, which he attributed to the plotting of
his Coptic and secular Muslim colleagues. These complaints, unfortunately, found sympathetic ears among the responsible authorities and led
to the appointment of a foreign professor to chair the department when
it became a Coptic professor’s turn to assume that position. The sole
issue that seems to have engaged this professor was to spread the ideas
of the brotherhood and to recruit students to its ranks, especially from
among the freshman class that he insisted on teaching. Here is a sample
of what he taught the students; it is extracted from the textbook that he
wrote for the freshman class and was published in 1955. In the chapter
dealing with glaciers he alluded to the many and repeated glacial
advances that had affected the northern hemisphere during the last two
million years of the history of the earth. This phenomenon, according to
that professor, was part of a divine design to punish the infidels who
inhabited that hemisphere. The future, with Allah’s blessing, would
bring another advance that would exterminate the non-believers’ civilization. I must remind the reader that in 1955, when that book was written, there were not many Muslims living in that unfortunate hemisphere.
Today there are many millions. The book was later used for the freshman
geology classes in Saudi Arabia when that professor moved there to
teach in its universities.
The tactic of this professor was to delude the students into believing
that they needed to unite against fanatic Coptic professors who were
plotting to flunk them in exams and destroy their future. As naive and
silly as these ideas sound, I was astonished to find out that a good number of students, especially the urban poor, believed them. The prototype

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of a Copt, which was instilled in the minds of those students in the
medieval school system that they attended, was that he was a fanatic
who did not wish well to anyone outside his faith. I have a feeling that
in all likelihood, the image of a Muslim was no different for a Copt of a
similar background. Some of the students regarded me with suspicion, if
not with enmity. This intolerable atmosphere can best be exemplified by
the following preposterous incident that I have never been able to forget. It happened on the morning following my wedding day in June 1953.
I had handed over the results of the students’ exams and was getting
ready to go on my honeymoon. I was surprised by a visit from a messenger from the university, who handed me a notice requesting my immediate appearance at the university for interrogation regarding a complaint
by a student alleging that he had failed his exam because he had been discriminated against for his religion. I was taken aback that the university
would take such a complaint seriously, but later realized that many people regard such complaints as quite credible. Of course a re-examination
of the student’s papers confirmed my decision that he deserved to fail. I
mention this ludicrous example not because of its importance but to
illustrate the nature of the atmosphere that prevailed in the department
in which I had to establish my future. The timing of the event, rather
than the substance, is what really left an indelible mark on my memory.
The conniving of that mediocre professor, who devoted almost all his
time to spreading hate and recruiting students to the brotherhood movement, was successful. The department became a hotbed of the movement with a strong and disciplined cadre to propagate its ideas and
infiltrate the university institutions. Looking back at the scene some
fifty years later, I have to admit that this professor achieved his goals and
succeeded in ensuring that most of the newly appointed university staff
were from this cadre.
Undoubtedly, this success was partly due to the great support that the
religious right received from the government. As early as 1946 the government of the notorious prime minister Isma‘il Sidqi was determined to
root out the increasingly popular left wing movement that had been
embraced by many of the university professors and some students dur-

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ing World War II. In that year the government cracked down on the university, jailing many professors and permanently closing their meeting
places and magazines. Embracing the groups of the religious right was
one of the methods the government used to fight left-wing groups. This
new policy might have explained why the government averted its eyes to
the obvious transgressions of the religious right as it spread hate and as
its members grabbed a majority of the university positions and scholarships. It may also explain the free rein given to these groups to recruit
more members, a freedom that continued until 1954 when the brotherhood clashed with the new revolutionary regime.
I came back to the department of geology to find this backward and
stultifying atmosphere, in which there seemed to be no hope of satisfying my ambitions of pursuing my research and working toward building
a science department rivaling the best in the world. I had left my position in the United States as a professor and a researcher in the most prestigious scientific institution because I felt that I could have a positive
impact in my country. For the first two years after my return, I tried to
find a place for myself in this atmosphere and to cope with it but to no
avail. The department’s council was overwhelmed by the intrigues of its
more mediocre members, who were determined to prevent me from carrying out my research, dissuaded research students from working with
me, and made sure I did not get any funding.
My first two years in the department convinced me that it would be
a waste of time to continue to be engaged with this situation. The
financial resources of the university were meager and were controlled
by a council whose members were not versed in good management or
fairness. The bureaucracy involved in getting anything accomplished at
the university was overwhelming. Every decision, however trivial, took
months to pass. It had to go through the mills of the councils of the
department, the faculty, and the university. The situation was untenable and not conducive to scientific research. For this reason I decided to distance myself from it and started building a small unit of
research that I intended to be self-supported and as independent as
possible from the university.

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I found support from the oil companies and the geological survey,
who were ready to facilitate our work in the desert, support our
research, and exchange data and information with us. A good part of
the effort I spent in this small unit was devoted to training a select
group of graduate students who were eager to expand their horizons
and achieve their potential. I had hoped that by building a new school
of students well versed in research I could contribute to changing the
inexorable and politicized atmosphere that was stifling scientific
research in the university. The unit depended on my personal library,
which I had started building while abroad and which was kept current
through exchange with colleagues and through personal subscriptions
to a number of periodicals. The library became the only one that we
depended on for current literature, since the university library had
become effectively obsolescent.
The new unit of scientific research I established was a small enclave
that I managed to keep up to the same standard as the most prestigious
universities in the world. This was possible only because scientific equipment at that time was not exorbitantly priced or exceptionally complex,
as became the case in later years. The small research unit produced
world-class scientific papers, rivaling those from the best universities
with which we were in constant communication exchanging information
and papers. Most of our scientific results ended up on the pages of the
most prestigious periodicals and journals.
I was able to keep the independence and standards of my small unit
of research by avoiding being engaged with other professors, who
indulged themselves in abusing the system and in degenerating the standard of education by allowing promotions to people who did not deserve
them. It was obvious that these professors would not pass the dissertations that came out of my lab despite the international acclaim they
received. I therefore insisted that they must be examined abroad and I
always forwarded them to the faculty’s board with suggestions of names
of examiners whom I chose from among the most well known in their
fields. I was fortunate in having on my side in this regard the deans of
the faculty Ahmad Riyad Turki and Husayn Sa‘id.

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One of the great accomplishments that came out of my lab was my
book The Geology of Egypt, which I started on when I found myself having ample time on my hands after the head of the geology department
relegated me to giving one lecture a week during the second semester of
the academic year 1960/61. The book was published in 1962 by one of the
oldest and most respected publishers in Europe and soon became the
authoritative and definitive text on the subject and has since been translated into several languages.

Joint Research Programs
Perhaps one of the main reasons my lab was able to remain independent was
the joint scientific research programs that I conducted with my colleagues
from European and American universities. These programs were among the
first in Egypt and probably among the most successful. Although I have
always had many reservations concerning these joint programs, I still
believe that they can be mutually beneficial if the principal investigators of
both teams are of equal standing in the scientific community. Unfortunately
this has not been the case in many of the joint research programs that started to inundate Egypt from the 1970s. Many were great failures that cost
Egypt dearly, as I will show in a later section of this chapter.
The success of the joint work that I conducted with Professor Fred
Wendorf, my classmate at Harvard, was due to the fact that the principal investigators of both parties were of equal standing and were able to
carry out a meaningful dialogue and to direct the work to their mutual
benefit. I met Professor Fred Wendorf by chance during his visit to
Egypt in 1961, which he made in response to a plea by the Egyptian government and UNESCO to scientific institutions to salvage the Nubian
historical remains. These remains were at risk of becoming submerged
by the rising waters of the Nile as a result of the construction of the
Aswan High Dam. He came to explore the possibilities of carrying out
salvage archeology in the field of prehistory. We met fortuitously at the
herbarium of the botany department while I was visiting my friend Dr.

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This boat service was run by the Egyptian government to serve the many little villages that studded that stretch of the Nubian Nile. After exchanging a few reminiscences we started to discuss how best he could achieve his goal. My first impression was that the area had a lot of potential but that its study could best be carried out from the desert side rather than from the Nile side. I had noticed that little had been written about the recent geological history of Egypt and I wished I could have the chance to launch a program for its study. These were two well-equipped trucks with their drivers. Having just finished my book The Geology of Egypt. I therefore decided to make the trip from the desert side in vehicles that I was able to get on loan from the geological survey. I suggested that the best approach would be to visit Nubia and have a preliminary look at its possibilities. I made my visit to Nubia the way everybody else did at that time. and asked me to carry out that visit and to prepare a report for discussion when he came back in the fall. Wendorf agreed. With Wendorf ’s invitation the fulfillment of this wish seemed close at hand. I went ashore at every stop and walked to the nearby desert area. He invited me to work with him on a joint program on the geology and prehistoric archeology of Nubia. I gladly accepted. was delegated to accompany me. THE UNIVERSITY | 65 . and he soon recognized that a joint program with a geologist might be the best way to go. Bahay ‘Isawi was one of my students who had just finished his master’s degree under my supervision and who showed great promise.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 65 Kassas. by taking a train to Aswan and from there the steam boat that shuttled along the Nubian Nile from Aswan to Wadi Halfa. A geologist from the survey. His invitation could not have come at a more opportune time. which was in many places quite distant. An ideal approach would have been to conduct the study on a multidisciplinary basis with an archeologist at hand to help in identifying and interpreting the human remains and tools that are frequently found in the sediments of recent ages. But before we could go any further with our plans we had to find out whether there were any prehistoric remains in Nubia that would justify launching the program or applying for funds. Bahay ‘Isawi. It carried passengers as well as goods and the mail to every village on its course.

Wendorf was able to raise the funds and form an expedition (the Combined Prehistoric Expedition) to which he recruited many experts and in which I became responsible for the geological work. Wendorf came to me complaining and I decided to intercede. He carried them back to Cairo. Wendorf ’s concession also included the two oases of Kurkur and Dunqul as well as a small window overlooking the Nile. During the ten-day trip we made with Wendorf we traveled the desert stretch along the western bank of the Nubian Nile and made a short visit to the oases of Kurkur and Dunqul. We found the terrain in the east rugged. who headed the antiquities service at that time. Anwar Shukri. The late Dr. The skill of the driver-mechanics that accompanied us and the extremely efficient organization of the trip with regard to its supplies and the putting up and folding of its fly camps were quite impressive. In 1963 I managed to persuade the geological survey to sponsor the expedition and to provide me with the necessary gear to conduct a preliminary survey of the land of Nubia to help locate the most promising areas where the expedition could start its work. which lie on top of the cliff overlooking the Nubian plain. telling him that he had already granted the concession for the study of the prehistoric remains of Nubia to another expedition and that there was no place for him. Much to his dismay his request was declined. was blunt with Wendorf.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 66 Wendorf returned to Egypt in the fall of 1962 to find out that I had arranged our visit to Nubia by way of cars rather than by boat as had been the tradition among archeologists and Egyptologists. I went in the fall of that year with Bahay ‘Isawi on a car trip that took us to every part of the region. With the concession in hand. I went to Dr. which was working from a boat docked on the river. 66 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . Shukri and was able to persuade him to grant Wendorf a concession to work in the peripheral stretches of Nubia outside the Nile valley that were beyond the reach of the other expedition. Wendorf found the area to hold great promise for prehistoric studies and collected a few flint implements from some of the sites that were strewn all over that stretch. hoping to convince the head of the antiquities service department to grant him a concession to work out the prehistoric archeology of Nubia.

after the withdrawal of the other prehistoric expedition from working in Egypt. That was where the expedition started its work. where the Egyptian army was setting up new radar installations. on the other hand. I asked the minister to do me the favor of looking into the matter and conducting his own investigations for I would not like to be associated with anyone who could be remotely linked to a foreign or even a local intelligence organization.I. The work of the expedition was highly professional and its contributions in the fields of prehistory and quaternary geology were monumental. The minister’s first reaction was to refuse the request on the premise that most Americans who came to Egypt were in reality undercover agents for the C. I retorted by saying that I had worked with the gentleman for more than five years and had not felt that he could represent any risk to Egypt’s security.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 67 difficult to negotiate and sparse in prehistoric sites.A. which THE UNIVERSITY | 67 . That year saw Egyptian-American relations at their lowest ebb following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The Combined Prehistoric Expedition has continued to work in Egypt since that time and did not stop its work even in the most turbulent years of Egyptian-American relations. to my surprise. Every year its fieldwork lasted between ten to twelve weeks. was considerably easier to approach and was richer in prehistoric sites. showed interest and willingness to come to Egypt that year. At first the minister was surprised that I came to him on behalf of an American who wanted to work in such a sensitive area. unthinkable. There was a surge of anti-American feeling that made any thought of an American visiting Egypt. The terrain to the west. When Wendorf. Egypt had severed its diplomatic relations with the United States. I remember distinctly how I managed to get it the necessary permits to work in the winter of 1969 in the Fayum area. let alone working in it. Within one year the work of the expedition had expanded to cover the banks of the Nile as well. I took his request to the minister of the interior and head of the intelligence department. which it perceived as a partner of Israel in that war. Fifteen days after that meeting the minister’s office telephoned and asked me to come to pick up the necessary clearance papers for the expedition to work in the Fayum area.

Few had ventured into it and little was known about its geology. I did not hold the members of that committee in great esteem as they were known for their nepotism and unfairness. including myself.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 68 were spent in the desert in Spartan camps that did not have refrigerators or enough water for frequent bathing. They enriched our discussions and increased our exposure to other branches of science. When we went to the southern part of the Western Desert in the 1960s it was almost a virgin land. a heavy price I was not willing to pay. Wendorf made sure to bring with him every year an excellent group of researchers from different disciplines. I realized from the beginning that asking for promotion would either lead to discord with the members of the promotion committee or to compromising my principles. The fieldwork and the discussions we had about the results of our work of the day every evening around the candle-lit dining table were stimulating. the times I spent in these camps were among the happiest in my life and the most fruitful in my scientific career. Occupying the Chair of Geology Throughout the years I worked at the university the question of my promotion did not occupy me. learnt a great deal. the field camps were a pleasure to go to and I looked forward every year to spending some time there. 68 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . My work in the expanses of the desert away from the hustle of the city and the atmosphere of intrigue and conspiracy was spiritually uplifting. to make it the subject of the doctoral thesis that he finished under my supervision in 1965. However. The days I spent in these camps diminished as the years went by and as my duties proliferated when I took over the responsibilities of the geological survey and mining organization. Nothing could rival the joy of walking in the desert attempting to unravel its geological evolution or the history of its land use. Nevertheless. The evening meeting was almost like a school in which many. This led me to encourage Bahay ‘Isawi.

But in the end. The publisher sent me a copy of that letter and his response to it in which he affirmed that it was he who was responsible for adding the title “professor” to my name. he insisted on creating one for me. My promotion to the position of assistant professor only happened after I had spent eight years as a lecturer. urged me to do so. The Geology of Egypt was published while I was still an assistant professor. rather than going through the lengthy process of creating one. On the other hand. which is twice the usual time for such a promotion. Conferring this title on me disturbed one of the professors at the department. who introduced the book by adding the title “professor” to my name. who sent a letter to the publisher informing him that I was not a professor. for I had become known among scientific circles all over the world. When I explained to him that this was due to the fact that there was no chair for me to occupy in the department of geology in Cairo University.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 69 Merit was the last thing on their minds. My works were referred to frequently. I agreed. THE UNIVERSITY | 69 . When I look back at the correspondence I had during my active years in research I find it overwhelming. but only an assistant professor in the department in which he was the professor. they were limited to chairs that were created by presidential edict. as indicated on the jacket of the book. the minister of higher education. I hesitated to apply for that post because it would have taken me away from my home in Cairo and also from my laboratory in the university. a situation that must have seemed unlikely to the publisher. Almost every scientific worker who was working in my field corresponded with me and quoted my work. I did not lack recognition. He was surprised that until then I had not held the title of professor. knowing that they would be conferred by the likes of this professor who happened to sit on the promotion committee. Promotions to the post of professorship at that time were not open as they are today. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz alSayyid. which by that time had achieved international recognition. he found one that was going to be vacated by the retirement of a professor in Alexandria University. I did not ask for a promotion to full professorship until many years after the publication of the book and only after Dr. In truth. I was not after any titles.

I eventually decided to resign from my position in the committee after coming to the realization that the university was no longer the place to do any worthwhile scientific research. while still having my breakfast. informing the members that they had enough papers to judge my competency as a professor. Years after my promotion I became a member of the “permanent” committee for the promotion of university professors. The head of the geology department did not want me back and even prevented me from continuing the lectures that I had begun before I moved to Alexandria.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 70 however. He personally collected my scientific papers. For two years I worked hard to restore to that committee the respectability it should have had by emphasizing merit in its decision making. after the minister had explained to me that my Alexandria appointment would be only temporary and that he would make every effort to delegate me back to Cairo University as soon as I had been promoted. but found the situation unpleasant and time consuming and mired in endless Byzantine arguments. later dean of the faculty of science. and I obliged with a great deal of hesitation and maintained that position for two years. The minister suggested that I accept a position in ‘Ayn Shams university in Cairo instead. filled the application form. by my dear student Amin Basyuni. It is possible that the minister of education decided not to act on his promise after he found out the hostile atmosphere that I would have had to face in that university. When the committee asked me after a whole month to turn in all the papers that were listed as “under publication” I refused. ‘Ayn Shams university. to apply. insisted that I must apply. and carried my application and papers to the promotion committee on my behalf. even if that came at the expense of the students’ education. I received an invitation from the Geological 70 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . Amin. Despite that promise I hesitated and did not proceed to apply for the post until the last day. all the while having no office there. While I was gradually becoming estranged and feeling out of place at the Egyptian universities. when I was visited in the early morning. After having been promoted in Alexandria University I was not delegated to Cairo University as I had been promised. who had just come back from his mission in Germany where every one of his professors called me professor.

The call was from Dr. Before I end my reminiscences of my university years. As it happened the professor came to see me at my laboratory in the university. I gladly accepted the offer and decided to cancel my trip to the States and to stay in Egypt. the foremost Soviet geologist. and always showered me with praise and acclaimed my scholarly works every time I had a chance to see him. He had kept up with all my writings. Graduate students were dissuaded from working with me. This was an annual invitation extended by the association to two scientists from outside the United States and was considered an honor of the highest degree. ‘Aziz Sidqi. to Egypt. booked my plane ticket. But despite all these obstacles there was a positive and a bright side to my university years. From that enclave scores of graduate students obtained their higher degrees THE UNIVERSITY | 71 . where we had a long discussion. who had been appointed minister of industry in 1968. The obstacles were many and were intended to cripple me and prevent me from carrying out any creative work. When the first minister of scientific research in Egypt invited Professor Belaussov. there was the little enclave that I had set up in the university and that proved to be a true center of excellence. I was barred from all sources of information and was prevented from meeting visiting professors or attending scientific conferences abroad. and was ready to go when I received a telephone call that changed all my plans. I accepted the invitation. First. asking me to accept the position of chairman of the board of directors of the Egyptian General Mining Organization.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 71 Society of America to give a series of lectures at selected American universities. The following regrettable incident may show the ferocity and pettiness of the fight that was launched against me. there was a positive and constructive side to those years. he tried his best not to have the professor meet me. Strange enough. He told me how surprised he was not to find me among the geologists that the minister had assembled for him to meet and introduced as the leading geologists of the country. this minister had been one of my students. I have to mention that despite all the obstacles that I faced and the annoyances that escalated noticeably after the publication of my book The Geology of Egypt.

told me that he was a frequenter of my lectures in the 1950s when he was a student at the faculty of law. I must admit that I could not have weathered the difficulties I encountered without the support I got from some of my professors and colleagues. and great men of honor who worked hard to maintain the standards of the university at the highest level. Attendance of my lectures was not limited to students of my own class but included students from other classes and even other faculties as well. my years at the university enabled me to influence many students’ lives by opening up new horizons to them and by teaching them the methods of science and the ways to approach a problem. The book became a standard reference work and found application in the exploration for mineral. It was well reviewed and greatly acclaimed and represented a distinct event in the history of the geology of Egypt. Nasri Shukri.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 72 and from it came many first-rate scientific papers. groundwater. Mustafa al-Husayni. the wellknown political commentator. In that book the mass of scattered and seemingly disconnected information on the geology of Egypt was systematized and fitted into a conceptual framework. Finally. both of whom became ministers of higher education in later years. which were published in the most prestigious international journals. Second. this was the first book ever written about the geology of a non-industrial country by one of its people. I also had the support of deans Muhammad Mursi Ahmad and Husayn Sa‘id. From it also came my first book about the geology of Egypt. whom I had asked to deliver a lecture in my stead during one of the weeks in which I was away from Cairo on a field trip. Foremost among these was Dr. was amazed to find the auditorium full of students. 72 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . all previous deans. My lectures at the university were always the busiest and were well attended despite the lengths the other administration members went to in order to stop students from enrolling in my classes. But above all I had the good fortune to work under ‘Ali Mustafa Musharrafa. and oil deposits. and Ahmad Riyad Turki. Hasan Shaker Iflatun. A colleague of mine. who steadfastly supported me until he departed to take a United Nations position in Africa in the mid-1960s. He used to lecture to the same class but never knew that it had such a large number of students.

sand. At the time they were nationalized these companies were already small and in bad shape. All were in a bad financial state. The mining companies were relics of the private sector and had been nationalized years before my appointment to the organization.000 workers of these mines had been forced to flee their positions and return to Cairo. kaolin. and coal were extracted. like the Safaga and Qusayr phosphate companies along the Red Sea coast and the manganese company in Sinai. Even the Salt and Soda Company. Some were about to close down after having exhausted their reserves. Close to 30. the organization was in a deplorable state as I arrived to take up my duties in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war (which had compounded its problems). At the time of my appointment to my post in May 1968 the organization was supervising the geological research institution as well as seven small mining companies. Those who did not have a dwelling place in Cairo were allowed to live in tents that were set up in the yard of the geological research institution in the district of ‘Abbasiya. was in no better shape. This situation continued until my arrival nearly one year after the war. their budgets showing great losses. with vendors peddling their goods and food stands serving meals. THE MINING ORGANIZATION | 73 . indebted to the banks.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 73 The Mining Organization I left the university to head the mining organization full of hope that I would be able to change it into a modern institution capable of using state of the art methods of geological research and mineral exploration. each of which had its own board of directors. which was supposed to be the most viable of the seven companies by virtue of the fact that it monopolized the salt market. The war resulted in Egypt’s temporary loss of the Sinai peninsula. It looked like a market place. where many of the mines were located from which deposits of manganese. extracting ores by primitive methods using cheap transient labor that was supplied by ignorant and merciless subcontractors. The yard and the building had a horrid stench and presented a scene of utter confusion. In fact. gypsum. The chairmen of these boards together with other public figures constituted the board of directors of the supervising organization that I chaired. Others were small operations.

” The building itself was in utter confusion. known among the workers as “the fenced area. maps. many were left in boxes that had not been opened since they were transferred to the new building in ‘Abbasiya close to two years earlier. pending an official confirmation of their fate. As I mentioned earlier. The disaster of the war of 1967 had shocked them all and was particularly hard on those who had been in Sinai. There were the widows of the workers who had been lost in action during the war. The war came after a long period in which the organization had been in complete turmoil following investigations carried out by the military intelligence agency (the “mukhabarat”) in 1964 to settle old scores with some of the ex-army officers who had headed the mining companies at that time. There were the thousands of employees of the organization who had not been promoted for years on end. 74 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . The investigation induced many employees to spy on their colleagues and created an atmosphere of distrust in which everyone was afraid of the other. it did not even have a list of its workers organized according to their specialization. files. on the roof and in the court. The geological research institution had no organizational framework. they came to me wailing and pleading for help when the salaries of their husbands were discontinued and their pensions remained undetermined. There were the thousands of temporary workers who lived in fear of being laid off and who had been severely exploited by a corrupt and inefficient administration. The organization had lost most of its material assets and the morale of its workers was at its lowest. with scores of unopened boxes piled up on an empty plot of land outside the building. There was no one to complain to and no one to look into their problems. in addition to this total chaos. in the corridors. I found the morale of the workers at its lowest ebb. There were the managers who came to my office imploring for help to supply their factories with replacements for the raw materials that used to come from Sinai. It also paralyzed the leadership.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 74 The situation was depressing. and equipment were to be found everywhere. The storehouses were completely full and were in total disorder. books. which sought safety in inaction. each came to my office with a complaint and each had a tragedy to tell.

that both have a small reserve of economically extractable phosphate rock. This latter task could only be achieved by paying greater attention to the role of the geological research institution. I gave myself a time limit of two years to try to salvage them. In the Red Sea area most of the mines were old. as I indicated before. I started my trip by a visit to the mines of the Safaga and Qusayr companies along the Red Sea coast. there were the problems of the mining companies.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 75 I found the task before me daunting. when they represented a sizeable proportion THE MINING ORGANIZATION | 75 . I should spend it exploring for the mineral wealth of Egypt and building a new mining industry based on sound research and run by modern methods. They were. They had been opened some forty years earlier and were worked out by semi-mechanical methods and were made profitable by the crude exploitation of cheap labor. The production of the Red Sea phosphate mines had declined tremendously since their peak in the late 1930s. If I succeeded I would keep them under my supervision and if I failed I would get rid of them. They started their decline and were rendered uneconomical in the wake of World War II. From there I crossed the Eastern Desert to visit the mines of the Nasr Phosphate Company in the neighborhood of the Isna region in upper Egypt. The Mining Companies I began my work of assessing the mining companies that were under my supervision by visiting in July 1968 the three companies that were engaged in the phosphate extraction industry. My rationale was that rather than wasting my time in salvaging hopeless companies. when their methods of ore extraction could not cope with the great technological developments of the time and when labor became more expensive as a result of the social revolution that gripped the world at that time. My trip confirmed the conclusion that I had formed as a result of my studies on the geology of both areas. small and on the verge of bankruptcy and seemed to me without any future. In addition to the problems of the geological research institution.

these methods were economic.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 76 of the world’s phosphate production. The extraction of these ores was only possible by the use of semi-mechanized methods. and in particular of those that were engaged in the extraction of the phosphate rock. They were poorly managed. I found it difficult to introduce the two basic conditions that could bring about this change. These two simple requirements seemed to have been missed by all those who were engaged in the mining industry. and the concentration in our exploration work on finding ores that were amenable to treatment by these methods. had no maps. In addition. which experience and the rising cost of labor had proven to be totally infeasible. were due to the application of these antiquated methods. The workers’ morale was low as a result of the losses of the companies. when labor was cheap. When I visited the mines in 1968. In the past. When I arrived to head the mining organization in 1968 not a single mining company had any training program aimed at increasing the 76 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . Until my arrival at the organization no one seems to have noted that the losses of the mining companies. When I examined the phosphate projects that were being planned for execution by the three companies I found that they were all based on mining ores that were similar in attributes to those that were being mined by those companies at the time. no set plans for their future development. and no program for training their workers or increasing their productivity. today they could hardly meet the rising cost of labor. The reserves seemed to have been exaggerated. namely the training of workers and personnel to gain the skills necessary to deal with the new and more sophisticated equipment of these methods. I did not expect the introduction of new methods of mass extraction of ores in the mining industry of Egypt to be an easy task. I found that they were substandard even by pre-war levels. It would need a total change in management and attitudes. I found out that the assessment of the ore reserves had not been made on a sound scientific basis. The only way that seemed to have a chance of getting the three phosphate companies out of their difficulties and securing their future was to find a reserve of ore in such quantities and with such attributes as to make it amenable to mining by modern methods of mass extraction.

which was running its operations using semimechanized methods that. It was difficult to do anything to save this badly planned project. Its execution had gone a long way so that withdrawal from it was almost impossible. no one seemed to have realized that the application of these methods required a new type of ore. which lies midway between Qusayr and Safaga along the Red Sea. were viable at the time. It went along to draw plans to develop the Hamrawayn deposit by the use of these new methods. The beds of the Hamrawayn deposit were thin and were difficult to extract by the use of fully mechanized methods. The deposit had been discovered by the Italian Qusayr Phosphate Company before its nationalization and was on its files for future development. In addition.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 77 productivity of its workers. the organization was committed to the execution of the project by protocols signed with the Rumanian government. The discovery had been suitable for development by the Italian company. When I arrived at the organization the work on the project was floundering and both the Rumanian and the Egyptian sides were complaining that the other side had failed to meet its obligations. The only way that was open was to try to improve upon the plan of the project in the hope of increasing the efficiency of the equipment that was about to be installed in the underground tunnels that had already been dug. It entered into agreement with the mining organization of the Rumanian republic to develop the deposit. Even when the concept of introducing new methods of mass extraction of ores was accepted and taken into consideration in planning all the new projects. I also attempted to minimize expenses by expediting the work. notwithstanding the fact that this would lower the grade of the final product and would reduce the profitability of the project. The new nationalized company that took over from the Italian company did not realize this fact. We did that by increasing the thickness of the extractable ore by incorporating into it some of the intercalating lower-grade phosphate beds. which aimed at exploiting the phosphate deposit in the area of Hamrawayn. For this reason I delegated the management of the project to the Sinai Mining THE MINING ORGANIZATION | 77 . as I have explained earlier. A case in question was that of the Hamrawayn phosphate project.

Before making any final decision on this grave matter. In light of these results I went to the board of directors of the organization to seek its approval to reconsider the organization’s plans for this area and to rewrite its existing phosphate projects to make their goals more realistic and in conformity with the results of our findings. I wanted to make sure that my conclusion that the area lacked any economically extractable reserves of ores was well founded. My knowledge of the geology of the area convinced me that it did not have any sizeable reserves of the types of ore that were needed for the introduction of modern mining methods. which would have affected the lives of thousands of people and the welfare of a whole community. As a first step toward improving the efficiency of the management I proposed to merge the two small companies that were working the ores of the two adjacent areas of Qusayr and Safaga into one company.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 78 Company. The results came confirming my conclusion and showed clearly that the proven reserves of economically extractable phosphate rock in the area did not justify any further work in it. The future of the phosphate mining operations in the Red Sea area looked bleak. 78 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . I wanted to make use of the skilled workers that had been lying idle since that war. the decision to withdraw from this area and to abandon all mining operations in it was a difficult one. However. which had lost its mines when Sinai was occupied after the 1967 war. work hard to improve the quality of our final product. For that purpose I sent two drilling expeditions to the area to probe all its potential prospects. Until such a deposit was found we had to contend with what we had. and it did not seem to be worthwhile spending any effort on their development. amounting to only about ten percent of the productivity of an American miner. I also informed the board that these projects must be looked upon as temporary and that the long-term solution lay in finding another major phosphate deposit to replace these tiny and burdensome operations. I pointed out that the worker’s productivity in the mines of Egypt was extremely low. and increase the productivity of our workers and the efficiency of the management.

their managers had been recruited from the ranks of a system dominated by a bureaucratic environment that did not permit initiative or the taking of any risk. I discussed the matter with Minister ‘Aziz Sidqi. even when this meant great losses and insolvency. the chief engineer of the mining organization. could not execute the simple plan of improving the quality of its product by crushing it in a mill and then washing it a stream of water. but went wrong and suffered great losses year after year after it was overextended beyond its potentialities when it became known to the authorities that the sands included the coveted radioactive mineral monazite. The company collected the sand deposits and treated them by a simple process to separate the heavy minerals included in them. to lay down the plan and to set it in motion for the company. After many years of losses the company was turned into a research project that was funded by the organization. which was working the deposit along the Nile in Upper Egypt. For that reason most companies were unable to meet the challenges that had been wrought by new developments in the industry. It was initially a small but profitable operation. The minister had lived the story of the project and had heard a lot of talk about its potential but had never seen any results. was in utter disarray. none of the companies took any initiative to improve or change its work. It was a company that had been established to sort out the heavy minerals from the sand deposits that used to accumulate at the mouth of the Rosetta branch of the delta of the Nile after every flood. When I came to examine the files of that project I found that they included reports from scores of experts and international consulting firms. Having lost hope that the company would carry out the work. for example. Other mining companies were no better off.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 79 Despite the board’s decisions. That simple operation had to await my input. I spent many days studying these reports and found out that all of them were either non-committed or outright skeptical about the prospects of the project. He agreed with me that the THE MINING ORGANIZATION | 79 . I delegated Anwar Bishai. The Nasr Phosphate Company. The Black Sands Company. I therefore decided to close it down. for instance. who immediately approved my decision. Most companies lacked good management.

After a long argument with the chief executive officer of the project. examining their viability. I entreated him not to bother me with the affairs of the small mining companies that were under my supervision and to make use of my expertise in finding new mineral deposits that could be the beginning of a new and better-founded mining industry. The study would comprise exploring and evaluating the mineral deposits of Egypt. In that draft I transferred the supervision of all the mining companies to the different industrial organizations that were using their ores and confined the function of the new organization to the scientific study of the land of Egypt. I came to the conclusion that these companies did not have the basis to be viable entities that could meet competition and look for a future. In light of this decision I prepared a draft of a new law that would reorganize the mining organization to allow me to concentrate my efforts on these new goals. and building the projects deemed necessary for their exploitation. I felt that spending any further effort on these companies would be a waste of my time. Many had exhausted their reserves and had done nothing to replace them. Others were engaged in small operations that did not seem to have any future. which we believed could replace the ailing phosphate companies of the Red Sea area.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 80 project had had its fair share of studies. After spending two years of hard work on the mining companies. I named the new organization “The Egyptian Geological Survey and Mining Authority. designing the plans. who welcomed it.” I carried the draft to Minister Sidqi. the decision was taken to close down the project. I also informed him that we were already exploring the potential of a big deposit of phosphate in the Abu Tartur area in the heart of the Western Desert. suggesting the best ways for their use. I wanted to spend my time in exploring for new mineral deposits that could be the basis of this new industry. The republican decree establishing 80 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . who had finally found his match. I went to the board of directors of the organization with my recommendation to liquidate the project. which I wanted to use more constructively in building the foundation for a new and viable mining industry in Egypt.

Louis ‘Awad. ‘Abbas al-‘Aqqad. Hassan Fathi and many others were not associated with the university. The institution received my attention from the first day I arrived at the organization. Amin al-Khuli. ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq. THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY | 81 . Naguib Mahfouz. where practically all the great literary works of modern Egypt were accomplished outside the university.” Ever since I had left the university I had hoped that I would be able to transform this institution into a center of excellence that could function as the nucleus of geological research that the university was no longer able to be. became the nucleus of the new authority that I wanted to reshape in order to launch a new and better mining industry in Egypt. Salama Musa. Not a single one of the great literary figures of twentieth century Egypt was associated with the university. However. They either flourished completely outside it or else had been expelled from it for one reason or another. It was easy for him to grasp the philosophy and significance of the draft I presented to him. part of the former mining organization. I realized the difficulties entailed in achieving such a goal outside the university where all the trained scientists were to be found. I thought that the attempt might have a chance of succeeding. The Geological Survey and Mining Authority The Years of Growth The geological research institution. Mahmud Amin al-‘Alim. and it became the center of my work after the establishment of the new authority that restored to it its old name “The Geological Survey. Towering figures in the fields of literature and art such as Gurgi Zidan. Of the great men who were expelled from it one may mention the names of Taha Husayn.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 81 the new authority was issued in 1971. and many others. It had already been done in the field of letters. Tawfiq al-Hakim. My job in establishing that new authority had been greatly facilitated by the familiarity of Minister Sidqi with the condition of the mining industry of Egypt.

and other possessions. equipment. Cairo. Most of the equipment and vehicles had been supplied by the Soviet Union in accordance with several agreements that the survey and the relevant organizations in the Soviet Union had contracted. Equally bad and disorderly was the arrangement of the furniture. rooms were occupied in the order of the employees’ arrival at the new building. 82 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . I decided to give the experiment a try. files. however. maps. Unlike literature.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 82 Despite realizing that the achievement of distinction in the field of science outside the university is much more difficult than in the field of literature. The expansion. It was built in the mid 1960s in the district of ‘Abbasiya. had not been accompanied by any restructuring of its management or administration and it was therefore in very poor shape when I came to preside over it. The geological survey was established in 1896 as a small department that had contributed a great deal to the advancement of the geology of Egypt. This annex was finished and ready to receive the staff shortly before my arrival. I was encouraged by the fact that I was presiding over an institution that had a long history of distinguished scientific research. distinction in science is dependent on work in structured institutions with a rich infrastructure. It was not uncommon to find the office of an accountant next to the office of a geologist. The employees moved into it without any plan or regard to the nature and flow of their work. After a few years of the building functioning only as a store and a garage. In the years that preceded my arrival it had been greatly expanded. and was also a place to garage and repair the survey’s fleet of vehicles. an annex was added to it to house the offices of the survey. Organizing the Building The geological survey was housed in a building that was originally built to store the material and equipment that it received in great quantities during the period of its expansion. They were neglected after they had been moved to their new place and were heaped everywhere and anywhere.

Not only was the building in poor shape but so was its administration. The way to my new office passed by the store of the car tires. he showed no remorse. It was apparently built on founda- THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY | 83 .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 83 The office building was in absolute chaos when I first came to visit it shortly after my appointment as head of the mining organization. The way to its workshops crossed the offices of the technical staff and the gate through which goods and machinery went in and out of the stores was the same gate used to access the offices of the staff. who was responsible for it. The director of the geological research institution. As I left the building after that first visit I decided to get rid of that director. The building itself had received no care. in utter filth and confusion. Walking through the building I found the corridors and the rooms. This used to be opened frequently for loading and unloading. At that time my office had not yet been moved to the building but was still in the headquarters of the organization in downtown Cairo. Its entrances and exits were disorderly. His shameful negligence of the building and his unwillingness to take initiative of any kind convinced me that he was not the kind of manager who could help me achieve the goals I had set for this institution. and there was no shortage of these. He seemed to have been content with the building as it stood. The office overlooked an unpaved yard that was crowded with workers who used it as a waiting area until their turn to petition the administration came. When I asked him about this matter. I informed the minister of my decision and he approved it. a lavatory in the mosque next door. The organization of the building was the first task I had to attend to and the matter became especially pressing after I had moved my office there. notwithstanding the fact that it did not even have a restroom. was completely unconcerned with what was going on outside his office. No sooner had we started the process of reorganizing the building than it began to show serious cracks. there was. This first visit left me astounded and depressed. with the exception of one or two rooms that were occupied by senior staff. after all. causing enormous noise. The displaced workers from Sinai who had no place in Cairo also used it for accommodation after the 1967 war.

After propping and repairing the building we got busy fixing its entrances and exits. ‘Atiya. This became obvious when the workers felt that their new leadership was serious and committed. to probe the yard and mark out a way to separate the entrances. he knew his religion well. some of which came from my own garden. Once we were finished with improving the access to and the exit from the building. from the time of the Fatimids until the time it became the site of a camp for the British Army during World War II. The heap was the accumulation of the refuse of the city of Cairo for some 800 years. He told me that he was certain that he could dismantle the prayer areas without inciting any problems and that he was willing to take that responsibility upon himself. Removing any of these areas would have incurred problems that I was not ready to face. ‘Atiya telephoned to inform me that the problem had been solved and that he had been able to convince the workers’ union not only to dismantle the prayer corners but also to participate in restoring the yard and reorganizing the entrances. ‘Atiya asked me to leave it to him. ‘Atiya was a pious man. Mr. Every possible path that could have made way for the new entrances had been covered in mats and turned into a prayer area. but was also due to the atmosphere of determination that prevailed among Egyptians in the wake of the 1967 defeat to reconstruct and reaffirm their lives. A few days later Mr. We wanted to separate the entrance of the office building from that of the workshops and the stores. Looking back on this remarkable achievement I can only surmise that the solution to that problem was not only due to the convincing arguments and leadership qualities of Mr. but we found that the task was going to be extremely difficult.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 84 tions that had not reached firm ground. We then turned our attention to the rooms of the building. Realizing that the matter was extremely sensitive for me to handle. which needed to be rearranged so that each department would have its staff 84 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . Mr. we were able to pave the yard and adorn it with trees which I myself chose. Upon coring the ground we found that the building was standing on a heap of rubbish some 18 meters thick. the new director. I went with ‘Abd alHadi ‘Atiya. He had that rare combination of fearing God and enjoying life to its full.

I had frequently talked to the heads of the departments urging them to swap rooms so that they could streamline their work. As was the case with every other department. A similar reorganization was also effected in the Geological Museum. What probably made the arrangement acceptable was that the rooms had been upgraded and provided with a telephone exchange system that made internal connections considerably easier. They had likewise failed to convince anyone to change rooms. It was a place where I could be alone with myself contemplating and organizing my thoughts about plans for the future of the organization. When the employees arrived for work at the beginning of the week each was informed at the gate of the number of his new room. It was also the place where I prepared the few scientific papers I was able to publish during my chairmanship of the survey. We rearranged its exhibits to make them more attractive. They were in total disorder. The committee studied the plan of the building and came up with a scheme. That office was my refuge whenever I wanted to get away from the din of the administration and its endless problems. which I endorsed. Everyone found the room that was offered to him smaller or less airy or more out of the way. but to no avail. and we enlarged its working space by adding an annex to the building. When I lost hope that the heads of the departments would solve this problem I delegated a committee to carry out the task of rearranging the rooms of the building to streamline the work. I ordered it to be carried out during the weekend when no one was in the building.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 85 occupying a contiguous section of the building. full to capacity and overflowing with material that was lying unpacked in the original boxes THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY | 85 . putting the names of their new occupants over the doors and moving furniture in and out. The committee members spent the whole day and night of one weekend numbering the rooms. which occupied a beautiful turn-of-the-twentieth-century building in Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo. the storehouses were also in bad shape. where we housed a small library of select books on the geology of Egypt and where I kept an office for myself. Strangely enough everyone accepted the new arrangement and there were hardly any complaints heard.

most of the equipment came as a result of several agreements that the survey had made with the Soviet Union.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 86 in the open air. They had no place to be garaged once the field season folded up and the members of the different parties came back to Cairo to conduct their laboratory work and write their reports. Knowing that the art of storekeeping needed skills that were considerably higher than those of our current storekeepers I tried to entice some of the newly appointed engineers to take up that career. My first step toward the solution of this problem was to build a new. As I have already mentioned. which were spread all over 86 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . large. but with little success. The quantity of goods and material that these agreements brought to the survey was so large that it found neither the place nor the personnel to handle it. party chiefs left the vehicles in the custody of the guard of one of the nearest rest houses of the survey. The job of a storekeeper was traditionally viewed as lowly and it was with great reluctance that a few college graduates responded to my plea. if not all. The storekeepers were not trained to handle any type of equipment or machinery. Most. and permanent store on the fenced plot of land that was being used as an open air store. There was hardly anyone from the Egyptian side who knew anything about this equipment. The vehicles that were used to service the many field parties in the desert were in no better shape. This agreement was renewed in 1971. I rewarded these by sending them abroad on a mission to study the art of storekeeping. which was largely handled and used by the Soviet experts who were seconded to the survey for the duration of the agreements. The first of these agreements was signed in 1959 and was one of the earliest commercial agreements that the Soviet Union had made. When the new store had been built I asked the Soviet side to make available to us a few experts to organize it and to train its keepers. let alone those that had manuals written in the Russian language. This was followed by another bigger agreement that was signed in 1964 that was intended to enable the survey to evaluate the raw materials of the industrial projects that had been planned to utilize the electric power that was expected to be generated from the Aswan High Dam. even more was stored in a fenced area across the street.

I became aware of the dismal state of the vehicles of the survey from the first day of my arrival at the mining organization when I wanted to pay a visit to the mines of Egypt. The decision to remove most of the repair work to the remote Marsa ‘Alam area proved effective. where workers could concentrate on their work without distraction. four-wheel-drive jeeps. The number of vehicles that the field parties used during the work season was in the hundreds. The number of vehicles was beyond the capacity of any existing garage and their repair and maintenance represented a problem. and difficult to reach hamlet on the Red Sea coast. They were left in the open air under the scorching sun without any maintenance. limousines. and other equipment. Shortly after the outset of the trip the cars started to stall one after the other prompting me to cancel the trip. As for the garaging of the survey’s fleet of vehicles. trucks. we decided to build a large garage in Marsa ‘Alam to house a large number of them.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 87 the desert. the survey had a fleet of every type of earth-moving machinery. The director of the geological research institution could not provide me with working cars that could take me to the mines. This experience induced me to look into the condition of the workshops in Cairo. the survey would have better service for its cars. In addition. They were of every conceivable type. Large cities offer the workers the chance to moonlight and to market whatever tools and spare parts they may pilfer. sleepy. we could avoid the problems that plague workshops in large cities where discipline and control are difficult. The garage was built on the abandoned site of the Sukkari gold mine. some THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY | 87 . where we had a large workshop. some 600 kilometers south of Suez. specially built vehicles for hauling drilling machines. which I found hopelessly difficult to reform. lorries of every size. I thought that by enlarging that shop and increasing its workforce from among the local residents. I hoped that by channeling most of the work away from Cairo. I therefore decided to enlarge the workshop that the survey had run for many years in Marsa ‘Alam. which was at the time a remote. graders. water tankers. I thought that a better location for an efficient workshop would be outside Cairo. trailers.

The result was an intense drilling program and a large number of scientific reports. Future generations of scientists might need to reexamine them using new techniques that may be developed in the future and that would throw more light on their nature and potential. so were the final reports of these early missions that had been prepared by the firms contracted to carry out the studies. The cores raised from these drill holes represented a wealth that I felt must be kept in good storage. I instantly decided to delegate a group of geologists to organize and ready them for storage in a core house that I decided to build next to the new store. It wanted the honesty and authenticity of the British reports to be checked by firms that were not associated with a colonialist power that did not wish good for Egypt. The clearing of the “fenced area” in preparation for the building of the new storehouse revealed the presence of a cache of boxes that contained the cores and samples raised from the drill holes that had been sunk in different parts of the desert in the 1950s and 1960s. who had deemed many of the mineral discoveries of Egypt unfit for economic exploitation. Just as the samples and cores had been treated with utter negligence. Realizing the importance of this find. It was a steel structure that used discarded drilling pipes and sheets of corrugated iron at almost no cost to the survey. the garage was the subject of a reprimand from the ministry of finance because it had been built without the use of an outside contractor and without getting a permit from the relevant authorities. the new government had ordered the reexamination of these discoveries so that their true potential would be known. Nevertheless. The cores and samples of this find represented a wealth of scientific material that was the result of a large program of drilling that ran for many years and cost millions of pounds.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 88 20 kilometers to the east of Marsa ‘Alam. Suspicious of the intentions of the British officers of the survey. The workers of Marsa ‘Alam volunteered to build the garage under the supervision of one of our engineers. The firms contracted were west European in the early years of the revolution and east European in the later years. They were not in the 88 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . The program had been instigated by the new revolutionary government after it had taken power in 1952.

Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 89 library of the survey. Most of its books were still unpacked and tucked in unmarked boxes. As one can imagine the library itself was in no better shape than anything else. Yet in spite of all these difficulties I believe that we succeeded in building a central library and a documentation center that can be considered among the best in the country. It had stopped its subscriptions to many scientific journals and had not made use of the publications that came to it by way of exchange from other surveys of the world. Its transfer to the new premises added to its already existing problems. The employees of the central organization of administrative development who had been delegated to the survey to help prepare this framework had failed to come up with an THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY | 89 . who had kept them in their personal libraries. This was a difficult job to accomplish. At the end of the missions they had been given to the heads of the departments. I put in a great amount of effort to help reorganize the library using modern methods of classification. They had been thrown on the rubbish dump by order of one of the cabinet ministers. who had wanted to use the rooms of the old library of the mining department to expand his office. I also built a new documentation center in which I tried to assemble all the scientific reports and publications that had been issued by the organization since its inception and which I hoped would act as a repository for all its future ones. which had been written by the mining inspectors who had visited the active mines of the time. renewing its subscriptions to some key scientific journals and resuming contacts with the survey departments of the world. Among those that had been lost were the old mining reports dating back to the early years of the twentieth century. Conceiving an Organizational Framework for the Survey Attempts to give the survey an organizational framework that would clearly outline its functions and list its job descriptions were floundering when I came to preside over it. I succeeded in reclaiming many of these reports and sent them to the library. Many of the old reports were not easy to find and some were lost forever.

Not one of them rose to see the bigger picture. With the exception of the college graduates. There was no record in the survey of the type of work that its employees and workers did. surveyors. One of the interesting facts that was disclosed by this change was that most of these workers had no birth certificates. It was also approved by the board of directors and by the organization of administrative development. The proposed departments in my framework represented the units that were deemed necessary for the realization of these aims. there was no record of the profession of the rest of the labor force. welders. drivers. in most cases. Many workers had been appointed on a temporary basis year after year and these we decided to change to a permanent status. mechanics. I discussed the framework with a few competent experts who helped to put it in its final shape. We took the opportunity of this change to rectify and complete their files. Not one of the many frameworks that had been proposed received the approval of the senior staff.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 90 acceptable one after two years of work. When the situation reached a deadlock. 90 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . Now that we had an organizational framework we needed to describe the nature and duties of the jobs in each department and to staff them from among the employees and workers of the survey. There were close to two thousand. and a variety of others. I decided to take the matter into my own hands and work out a framework for the survey that would take into consideration its aims as I had conceived them. In attempting to know the profession of each one of these names we went to the heads of the field parties and asked their help in identifying their staff and the type of work they performed. occupying a variety of jobs: cooks. whose professions were known. every one of them looked at these proposals from his own department’s point of view. without designation to a specific job and the register of the workforce was a mere list of names arranged according to the date of appointment. hoping to give it a more central position. their age had to be estimated by a physician. This latter job proved to be extremely difficult. Appointments had been made. carpenters. The proposal was discussed and accepted by the senior staff with little effort.

Their provisions and salaries were always late in coming and the salaries fluctuated from one check to the other for no obvious reason. Determined to lift the injustice that had been inflicted upon the workers by denying them any promotions for close to ten years. In every camp I visited I heard the workers complaining that they were unjustly treated. was infrequent. the camps were either temporary or semi-permanent. the only place offering computer services in Egypt at the time. They dispelled any doubt that the workers may have harbored about my managerial abilities. Depending on the nature of the assignment. Many of the complaints I heard in the field were handled on the spot.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 91 Now that the survey had assumed some order. There were also complaints about the slow response of the administration in Cairo to their needs or correspondence. which used to carry out their work from base camps that were pitched in the desert. where they got their supplies and had their homes. and in particular the one concerning the way the salaries were dispensed. and they used to be in the hundreds every day. THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY | 91 . With these reforms the number of complaints that my office received. Others had to wait until I arrived in Cairo. but these reforms. The mail service was irregular and the transportation facilities that kept them in contact with the Nile valley. were met with great appreciation by all the workers. Thus I was able to decrease the number of lawyers attached to my office to examine complaints to a single lawyer. Past experience had given the workers of the organization the impression that university professors were not always the best people to run a business. I also succeeded in raising the necessary funds to allocate a monthly food allowance for all workers in the field. that their work was not recognized and that they had not been promoted for many years. to work out a program to computerize the issuing of the salaries. such as those that dealt with the administration. As to the complaint regarding the way the salaries were dispensed. and transportation. I decided to visit the field parties. mail service. I asked the financial officer of the survey to contract the Ahram newspaper computer center. I lobbied for and succeeded in getting the necessary funding to execute the largest promotion movement in the history of the survey. was reduced to a trickle.

I tried in vain to persuade them to stay in the survey but did not succeed. A case in question was that of a holder of a degree from Moscow University. There was no appreciation for the holders of the higher degrees among the management or even among the professional staff. On the one hand. In this respect. whose application to join the staff of the newly opened geology department of the Islamic Azhar university was refused because he held a degree from a “communist” university. He could not get the position because of his refusal to perform a certain ritual to “prove” his religiosity. On the other. Everyone was on his own and no one wanted to share whatever information he had with any one else. A government position in this system was far from being a platform for public service. all our possible recruits for this cadre were graduates of universities whose standards were eroding. the survey had little that was promising or that could help turn it into a scientific institution of distinction. Only one or two of the holders of these higher degrees preferred to remain on the staff of the survey. in addition we managed to keep a couple more after their attempt to move to the university had failed. This system instilled suspicion among the workers and was not conducive to teamwork. They were all unhappy. namely the building of a cadre that is capable of handling scientific research. There was no shortage of job openings for any holder of a higher degree in the many new universities that were being opened in the early 1970s. actively seeking to leave the survey and join the universities where the workload was lighter and the pay was higher. where merit played a small if any role and where favoritism and the ability to intrigue were common. The few scientists with higher academic degrees occupied middle positions in the survey’s hierarchy.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 92 The Training of the Scientific Cadre We come now to the most important part of the process of building a scientific institution. who eyed 92 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . the survey did not have among its senior staff the leadership that could initiate a training program or that could help create the atmosphere that would inspire the young to learn and to think independently. All the leadership posts in the survey were attained by climbing the bureaucratic ladder.

One of the first orders that the personnel administrator wanted me to sign when I came to preside over the survey concerned the firing of Dr. Bahay ‘Isawi had extended his stay abroad beyond the date set for his return from the survey’s training mission in Norway. However. Bahay ‘Isawi. I urged the personnel manager to do everything possible to keep our trained personnel and to attract others too. an act which is punishable by expulsion from the service. our experience indicated that sending scientists to study abroad might not necessarily be the best way for them to get their training. He had apparently left Norway to the United States to benefit from a short scholarship that I had arranged for him when I was at the university. Every scientist that the survey sent abroad for training did not want to continue working for it when he came back. Despite this I refrained from signing the order. Many of those who came back from their missions were either not up to standard or had received training that was not necessarily useful for the needs of the country. Traditionally this obstacle had been overcome by sending promising young scientists abroad to get their training. The reason given for that order was that he had failed to appear in his office for fifteen consecutive days. one of the few holders of a doctorate on the staff. THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY | 93 . He had done that without getting the permission of the survey. In addition. Making Use of Foreign Expertise The lack of a well-trained cadre of scientists in the survey represented a major obstacle for its development. according to the literal application of the law. I felt that his expulsion would deprive the survey of one of its trained scientists.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 93 them with jealousy. I therefore looked for another way to overcome this problem and thought that it might be more effective if we were to bring to the survey from abroad some reputable professors in the profession to train our scientists on the spot. I also told him that I knew about the mission of ‘Isawi and that it would be a short one. our experience with this was not encouraging.

I found their knowledge exceedingly useful when we came to develop and work out several ore occurrences to replace those that had been lost in Sinai after the 1967 war. chemists. and others. The nature of the task that had been given to the team in the 1964 agreement was limited to the evaluation of ores that had already been explored and found. The training. when the time came for the renewal of the agreement in 1971 I insisted that we change it to benefit from the Soviet experience in that field. The amassed data was then sent to the Academy of Science in Moscow for interpretation and for use in deriving conclusions and writing the final report. This method seemed fitting for the exploration of the vast territories of the Soviet Union. therefore. Part of the central Eastern Desert of Egypt was allotted to the Soviet scientists to examine its mineral potential. surveyors. which they carried out in accordance with a manual that they followed to the letter. Because of the nature of the 1964 agreement the Soviet experts did not contribute much to the training of our personnel in the field of exploring and finding new mineral deposits. They had learnt the methods of estimating the size of an ore deposit and the way to get a representative sample of it in order to determine the physical and chemical properties of its bulk. It employed a large number of geologists.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 94 Fortunately. Therefore. The Soviet program proved useful in determining once and for all the mineral potential of the central part of the Eastern Desert of Egypt. measurements. The system that the Soviets used for the exploration of the minerals was based on employing young scientists to amass the data. and analyses of the area under investigation according to a set plan that no one was allowed to deviate from. but because of the fact that all the data had to be sent to Moscow for interpretation it did not help in training our workers in handling and inter- 94 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . I depended on many of these young scientists to evaluate these occurrences and to develop them into workable and viable mines. as I will explain later in this chapter. the survey had a team of Soviet experts who could help prepare our scientific cadre. The Soviet experts came in large numbers to accomplish this task. that many of our young scientists had gained was in the field of ore evaluation.

when I was able to forge an agreement with the United States geological survey and with other American institutions. THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY | 95 . and printing of documents and maps. When Egypt’s relations with the West improved in the 1970s. However. as I have explained earlier in this chapter. It all happened suddenly and as a result of an indication of interest that I received from the American administration during a visit to the United States as a member of the Egyptian parliamentary delegation in 1975. its mere presence was a reminder of the importance of these projects in the training of personnel and the enrichment of their experience. The aim of the visit was to foster USEgyptian relations.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 95 preting the field and laboratory data. which was funded by the UNDP as part of the regional development plan of the Aswan area. At that meeting the US survey agreed to work out a joint program with the Egyptian survey. That proved to be difficult to obtain in the 1960s and the early years of the 1970s. this made it easy to get the go-ahead when I raised the question of scientific cooperation. when Egypt’s relations with the West were tense. I became optimistic that we could initiate mutually beneficial joint projects with some of the western scientific institutions. Despite the fact that it constituted a very small part of the programs of the survey. Immediately after my return to my hotel from a meeting that the delegation had had at the state department. I found a message from the director of the US geological survey inviting me to meet him at his office in the outskirts of Washington. which had begun long before I arrived at the survey and which proved to be extremely successful. This project was under the auspices of the survey. my attempts to bring western scientific institutions to work with the survey were in vain until 1975. It also agreed to my suggestion that this program would entail the training of personnel and the fitting of a state-of-the-art office for the preparation. For that kind of training I wanted to get western European and American experience to the survey. During these years I could not bring to the survey any scientific project that was associated with the West except the Aswan Mineral Research Project. My optimism in this regard was probably due to my personal experience with one of these joint projects. drafting.

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The same year I was also able to get two well-known American geophysicists to conduct a joint program with the survey in the field of seismicity and tectonics. The program proved to be extremely useful in
helping the geophysical department of the survey to improve its methods and to keep abreast with the advances in this branch of science in
which the Soviet Union lagged behind. The results of this program were
among the most useful in understanding the internal structure and
dynamics of the land of Egypt.
Western methods of mineral exploration were markedly different
from those of the Soviet scientists. While the Soviet scientists worked
out the entirety of the land they wanted to explore inch by inch according to a set plan, the Western scientists reserved that detailed work only
for small and selected areas of that land. These areas were selected for
their prospects by using sophisticated all-embracing methods such as
satellite imagery and air magnetometer surveys and by the application of
theories regarding the origin of mineral deposits. Practically speaking,
both Western and Soviet methods led to the desired results. For Egypt,
the Soviet method seemed to be more appropriate. It was labor intensive
and could be carried out with cheaper equipment. It also needed fewer
scientists trained on the theoretical level.

Working Out the Programs of the Survey
Now that the survey had become reasonably organized and had at its disposal Soviet, UNDP, and American expertise, it was time to put in
motion the ambitious program that I hoped it could perform. This program aimed at the study of the land of Egypt with the ultimate goal of
making better use of its resources. It revolved around four main areas of
activity: the preparation of a database on the geology of Egypt including
the raising of geological, magnetic, and gravity maps, the detailed exploration of the mineral potential of selected areas of the desert, the study
of the viability of some ore occurrences for exploitation, and the design
of a scheme for better land use of selected areas of the desert of Egypt.

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The basic work of the survey was conducted in the desert, where close
to forty expeditions were sent to its different parts. More than two hundred geologists and engineers, attended by three times that number of
workers, mechanics, drivers, administrators, and others, staffed these
expeditions. They worked under a set of rules that was envisaged to
guide their work and to standardize the way they recorded their scientific observations and dealt with their financial expenditures. Serving
these expeditions were hundreds of vehicles that carried their provisions, water, and mail and transported their members to and from the
Nile valley. The new Marsa ‘Alam workshop, and its many subsidiaries
that spanned the desert, serviced the vehicles and the mining, drilling,
and other equipment of the expeditions. Every expedition was asked to
send to its supervisor in Cairo a monthly progress report of its work for
review. At the end of the season the expeditions returned to Cairo to
prepare their final reports. During the month of September all expeditions were given the chance to present their results at a meeting I convened in the lecture hall that I had had built especially for this purpose.
The members of the expedition who presented the best report were
rewarded financially and were awarded certificates of appreciation. The
expeditions’ reports were also edited and published in a new scientific
publication, the Annals of the Geological Survey of Egypt, which I established in 1970 to “disseminate part of the information gathered by the
members of the survey to a wider public.” I also ordered that all the final
reports of the expeditions had to be deposited in the new documentation center of the survey.
The new lecture hall that I built in the survey occupied a large part
of the lower floor of the building in which I had my office. It used to
be a store for tires and was the source of a lot of noise. The conversion
of that store into a lecture hall was carried out in its entirety by the
workers of the survey using its own workshops. There was no money
that could be allotted for this project in the survey’s budget and we had
to depend on whatever voluntary work the workers were willing to give.
The masons and carpenters of the survey did a magnificent job in
preparing the hall and its furniture. The doors were masterpieces of

THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND MINING AUTHORITY

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work, as were the chairs, which I had designed to have an extended arm
rest for note writing.
Many years after I had left the survey one of the many heads who succeeded me suggested that the hall be named after one of the earlier senior workers of the survey in recognition of his services. Ironically he
could not find any better person to name it after than the director I had
fired because of his neglect of the building! This suggestion did not pass
and the hall was named after me by a decision of the Board of Directors
of the Survey in 2004. It is interesting to note here that the hall that was
named after me was renovated and became a luxurious place with marble flooring, leather seats, great chandeliers, and other luxury furniture.
I do not know how often the hall is being used at present. All I know is
that in the 1996 centenary celebrations of the survey it was not used.
During the first years of my chairmanship, the survey was a beehive
of work. Its ambitious program was in full swing. Its expeditions were all
over the deserts of Egypt, its laboratories were reorganized and renewed,
and were busy handling the thousands of samples that were sent to them
while its projects department had its hands full in designing and studying the feasibility of the many new mines and quarries that were opened
or were in the pipeline to be opened. The administration was modernized and its ways of reporting and documenting its work were brought
up to date. The success of the survey in finding and developing new ores
to replace those that had been lost in Sinai boosted its reputation and
raised the morale of its personnel.
The Geological Survey of Egypt has a long and glorious history, which
I decided to make use of in fostering the new standing it had achieved
and in instilling confidence and self-assurance among its members. I
used the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the geological survey, which happened to fall in 1971, to attain that goal. The celebrations
that I planned for that occasion aimed at increasing the awareness
among the public and the members of the survey of its history and the
achievements it had realized. The celebrations were held in the new lecture hall in the survey. The opening ceremony was attended by the heads
of the industrial, mining, and oil companies as well as by many members

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of academia, former workers of the survey, and the heads of the geological surveys of many countries, especially from the Arab world. Lectures
and exhibits were arranged to show the contributions of the survey in
the understanding of the land of Egypt and in the development of its
mineral resources. A new geological map and a book on the history of
the survey were published. The postal service issued a commemorative
stamp. The new face of the survey impressed the guests. Some of the
heads of the Arab geological surveys solicited our help to organize their
surveys, a task that we carried out with great pride.
The celebrations made the members of the survey proud of belonging to it. It was difficult to believe that the celebrations took place in the
same building that only three years earlier had been in total disorder.
The event must have left a great impact on the members of the survey.
Its memory must have lived on, as is shown by the fact that the geological survey, out of all the scientific institutions established in Egypt in
the last decade of the nineteenth century, was the only institution that
celebrated its centenary in 1996. All other institutions missed the occasion of their centenaries. Not even an event as monumental as the discovery of the sources of the Nile, whose centenary happened to fall close
to that time, caught the attention of anyone.

Assessing the Ore Deposits
The Case of the Kalabsha Kaolin Deposit
The task of finding and assessing alternative ore deposits to replace
those that became inaccessible after Sinai was occupied in the 1967 war
was one of the urgent tasks to which I gave special attention and priority. Their discovery was important for the continuation of the work of
many factories that depended on them. We succeeded in this task and
we were able to find and develop several mines that successfully supplied
the factories with their needed ores.

ASSESSING THE ORE DEPOSITS

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One of the mines that was opened up as a result of this effort was the
Kalabsha kaolin mine in lower Nubia. It was our first attempt to open up
a mine on a scientific basis, and in fact was the first ever for Egypt, which
had always depended on foreign expertise in this regard. This achievement became possible only when we were able to train the specialists in
the different disciplines needed to open up a mine to work as a team.
Most of the specialists of that team were selected from among the young
men who had been exposed to the Soviet experience in the field of ore
evaluation. They worked according to a plan that was designed and coordinated by the projects department.
Kaolin is a special kind of clay that is used primarily in the ceramic
and refractory industries. The supply became short after the 1967 war
and we needed to fill in the needs of the companies working in these
industries as soon as we could. Upon examining the known occurrences
of this ore in Egypt, we found out that they were low grade and not fit
for the requirements of the companies. There remained an occurrence
that we had encountered while working in Nubia and that was mentioned in the unpublished thesis of ‘Isawi. We knew little about this
occurrence except that it was a seemingly large surface deposit. We had
no chemical analysis, no indication of its thickness, and no clue of its feasibility for extraction. Nevertheless I decided to send a mission to the
area for a preliminary look and to bring back some samples for analysis.
The preliminary report and the analysis were encouraging. Keen to fill
the empty bins of the refractory companies, I granted the concession of
the Wadi Kalabsha area to one of the mining companies to start immediately extracting the ore around the spots from which the samples had
been taken. In the meantime, I asked it to draw up a plan to study the
nature and reserves of the deposit so that it could build a permanent
operation there. That latter request, I found out, was beyond the company’s capabilities.
I relegated the responsibility of the study of the ore to the geological survey. We assembled a team from the available talent to carry out
the integrated study of that ore. The team started its study by raising
detailed topographic and geologic maps of this remote and little-

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manganese. The other three million tones represented all the mineral produce of Egypt. different clays. Toward a New Mining Industry The Abu Tartur Phosphate Project Our success in opening up the Kalabsha kaolin mine on a sound scientific basis and with Egyptian expertise gave me the confidence that my concept of building a new modern mining industry in Egypt could be realized. salt. gypsum. The studies lasted for about one year. Half of this production was made by simple shovel and sack from about 500 pits and quarries of sand and gravel used in construction. work that had been hitherto undertaken by foreign firms and cost Egypt millions of pounds. Thus in 1968 (when I became responsible for the mining organization) the country did not extract from all its mines and quarries more than six million tones of materials. The ore itself was the subject of laboratory studies to determine its chemistry. and physical properties and a representative sample was processed in order to determine the best way to dress it and to enhance its properties. This showed that the geological survey had the potential to take over the work of ore evaluation and development. The results of all these investigations were embodied in numerous reports that were later edited and published as a special publication of the survey. including iron. It contributed little to the national economy. talc. All the data went to the projects department for use in designing its mines and working out its feasibility. The mining industry in Egypt that I inherited was very small and was run by outmoded methods of operation and extraction. mineralogy. marble. They resulted in the opening up of a new kaolin mine with a proven ore reserve of 16 million tons. The outlined ore body was then drilled in accordance to a grid that was designed to help calculate its reserves and get a representative sample of its bulk. phosphate.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 101 known area. and others. TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 101 .

and the drilling of boreholes to determine the extent of the ore. The problem of transport became doubly difficult when it was discovered that the drilling operations needed exceptionally large quantities of water because of the cavernous nature of the sub- 102 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . It is bounded by precipitous and rough-going scarps from all sides except from the northwest. The expedition’s study was to comprise the preparation of topographic and geologic maps of the area. The trip to and from the camp was even more difficult for the water tankers and the large lorries that carried the supplies and equipment. the channel sampling of the ore exposure at more or less equal spacing for chemical analyses. In 1969 I decided to send an expedition to the plateau to carry out a preliminary study of the ore and the viability of its extraction. My knowledge of the geology of Egypt pointed to the presence of many mineral occurrences that could fit this requirement. some 50 kilometers away. The nearest place to obtain supplies was the hamlet of Kharga. The extent and thickness of the phosphate occurrence on this plateau encouraged me to look into its potential for development. Reaching the camp was a feat in itself. Their camp was pitched on top of the plateau. This plateau forms part of the rugged country that separates the oases of Kharga and Dakhla. The members of the expedition took to their work with great enthusiasm despite the extremely difficult conditions under which they worked. it could only be reached by negotiating a dirt road some 17 kilometers long before it joined the asphalt road to the hamlet. where it merges with the flat plateau of the Western Desert. One of the first occurrences that came to my mind when I was looking for an alternative to replace the depleted Red Sea phosphate mines was the phosphate deposit that had been reported by one of the expeditions of the survey some ten years earlier in the heart of the Western Desert at the Abu Tartur plateau. The camp itself was pitched on a plateau that was covered in a very fine-grained reddish brown soil whose particles filled the air upon the passage of any car.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 102 The building of a new and modern mining industry in Egypt depended on finding ores that could be extracted by fully mechanized methods. a remote area that was difficult to reach except by climbing a steep track that had been graded to fit the passage of a car.

The chemical analyses pointed to a medium grade ore with great potential for upgrading. This amount of water had to be hauled from the oasis along a rough road and the steep climb of the scarp. for it was going to be extremely difficult to provide the drilling operations with their exceptionally large needs of water without running out a fleet of water tankers. The next morning I took the young man to Cairo in my car. we had converted two of our machines to work with air rather than with water. Back in Cairo I provided him with what he asked for. I informed them that this problem left me no choice but to close the expedition. I thought the matter over for a moment and decided to take the young man’s offer seriously. During the ten hour trip I found out that he had graduated from the faculty of engineering. When I pointed out that we did not have any of these. That problem was on my mind when I visited the expedition to follow up on the progress of its work.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 103 stratum that the boreholes had encountered. The Abu Tartur phosphate deposit has a large extent and its reserves could be in the hundreds of millions of tons. he answered that he could convert the existing machines to work with air rather than with water. The encouraging results of the preliminary work of the expedition increased that interest as they clearly indicated that we were on the verge of a great discovery. I asked him about his needs to effect this conversion and he said that he would need a place in the workshop and the freedom to use its tools. and that his father had a small blacksmith’s shop in the district of Shubra where he used to work in summer. Buoyed by these results and inspired by the enthusiasm and devotion shown by the members of the expedition I sat down to chart a vision for the area after its development. Cairo. one of the young engineers assembled around the table suggested that we could overcome the problem if we were to use drilling machines that could use air rather than water for cooling. At dinnertime and as the members of the expedition assembled in the mess tent. Based on the available infor- TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 103 . The spirit of devotion and enthusiasm that was shown by this young man moved me and heightened my interest in the project. My words took everybody aback and after a few minutes of silence. A month later.

I also envisioned the project to have its own railway and port. the extension of a power line to the area. The total cost of the project was estimated to be 200 million US dollars (1969 prices) of which 145 million dollars would go toward building the infrastructure. With this in mind I asked Dr. Considering the prevailing rates of depreciation. wages. was a potential buyer for the surplus ore of the proposed mine at Abu Tartur. We found out that the western European markets were closed. Realizing that the production of this project would far exceed the needs of Egypt. and the building of a housing center for about three thousand workers. interest. The Soviet side showed great interest in helping develop the project and in entering into a long- 104 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 104 mation at that time I envisioned it as a hub of activity that would be centered around a large phosphate mine with a possible annual production of ten million tones of mine ore to be reduced to seven million tones of saleable upgraded ore after its treatment. That would entail the outlay of a 520-kilometer railway line from Abu Tartur to the new port of Hamrawayn (north of Qusayr) that was being built at that time. including the laying of the railway line. the chemical and mineral analyses. and so on. the project looked very promising indeed. it was important to find a potential buyer for the surplus phosphate. Sidqi. power prices. We also found out that the American market satisfied its need for phosphate ores from its domestic mines. the minister of industry. since the amount of material that would have to be moved from it would exceed the total tonnage that was being handled at that time by the state railways or the port of Alexandria. their needs were supplied by the North African mines that were jointly run and owned by European firms. All cost estimates were based on the actual cost of similar structures in the Bahariya oasis iron project. logs of boreholes. if we could add the matter of the development of this mine to the agenda of the meetings of the joint industrial committee to be held in Moscow in the spring of 1971. however. I went to Moscow carrying with me a large portfolio of our preliminary studies of the area including the maps. transport costs. which would add to the cost of the project. and other data. charts. He agreed. which had been built only a few years earlier. The Soviet Union.

It was also on the verge of drastically changing its geographical map by giving it a new east–west dimension besides the north-south extension along the Nile. the mukhabarat. their efforts were spent on downsizing them. The change occurred gradually. The new ministers of industry did not recognize the importance or potential of the industrial activities they were appointed to watch over. Under his leadership the priorities of national interest started to change. when it began to diminish slowly after the rise of President Anwar Sadat to power. industry lost its importance while tourism and other services gained greater attention. Enter the Mukhabarat The early years of the 1970s saw a struggle for power between the new president and the members of the old guard. liquidating their institutions. I will dwell on this matter in greater detail in the following chapter.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 105 term arrangement to buy part of its product. I was unwittingly thrust into that struggle and made the subject of investigation by the state intelligence agency. Industry became of secondary importance and its leadership was entrusted to ministers of little weight and dubious qualifications. The new president saw in tourism and other service activities an easier way out of the financial crisis that followed the 1973 war that he had waged to regain Sinai from Israel. and neglecting the supporting national research institutions that complemented their work. As a first step it signed an agreement with the survey to complete the studies of the project. The Years of Regression Work continued with great zeal in the survey until the early years of the 1970s. which will deal with my ventures in poli- TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 105 . chasing out their leaders. At this point it did seem that Egypt was taking its first steps toward a viable and modern mining project. but by the mid-1970s it had become complete and obvious.

which was organized by one of my subordinates on the instructions of the minister and without my knowledge. Dr. which he had headed before his appointment as minister. I was seated on the dais next to the minister and the general manager who had arranged the meeting. The minister opened the meeting with a long discourse on the benefits of good management. It seemed that he was content with what he had learnt about it from the mukhabarat reports that Dr. After some hesitation I decided to go. Sidqi left his office he handed over the reports to Engineer ‘Ali Wali.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 106 tics. These reports. He obviously wanted to keep his distance from me. He asked him to read them and act accordingly. Sidqi started to show toward me shortly before he left the ministry to take up the position of deputy prime minister late in 1971. The meeting. the minister of industry. The reports prepared by the intelligence agency were sent to Dr. This was regrettable. because it was largely due to the support of Dr. ‘Aziz Sidqi. Although I was not informed of their content I felt that they were unfavorable and were behind the hostile attitude that Dr. which he claimed that the geological survey did not have. depicted the survey as a poorly run organization that failed to perform its duties and was run by an inept religious fanatic. Wali assumed to be truthful. the new minister of petroleum to whose duties the mining and mineral wealth portfolio had been added. which Mr. Sidqi was an extremely competent minister who had cooperated with me until these reports started to reach him. When Dr. He wanted the survey to follow the example of the well-run and efficient petroleum organization. He went on to say that the survey had failed to find the mineral treasures that were known to fill the 106 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . I was invited at the last moment. For a few weeks after the appointment of the new minister I did not hear a word from him. He did not seem to be interested in contacting me to learn anything about the survey or its activities. Sidqi that I had been able to accomplish what I had. Sidqi had given him. After a few weeks of this tense atmosphere Minister Wali decided to call a meeting to introduce his new policies to the employees of the survey. was to be held in the conference hall of the ministry of petroleum.

The sample had reached him after he had read the intelligence reports that depicted the survey as an inept organization that could easily miss these obvious mineral occurrences. that the geological survey benefited from this ongoing myth and received large funds from the government to verify its truth. like most Egyptians. He then asked the senior officials of the petroleum organization to lecture the audience on the methods they used in running their successful organization. I expressed my surprise that he would attack the survey’s inefficiency when he had received from me in less than six hours a full report on a sample that he had sent to me for analysis and comment. however. This sample had apparently reached the office of the minister soon after his appointment from an unknown person who claimed to have collected it from a “copper mountain” located in a neighborhood of Cairo. It seems that the “copper mountain” sample that reached the office of the minister had been sent by one of those amateurs. TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 107 . I made a point always to respond to these letters by thanking their senders and enclosing information about the pertinent mineral or ore. believed in its authenticity. I began by expressing my amazement at the minister’s audacity to pass judgment on the geological survey before getting acquainted with its work or even talking to me about it. did not discriminate against anyone because of his or her religion. unlike the geological survey. I sat listening to this diatribe with great anger and I contemplated leaving the meeting in protest.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 107 deserts of Egypt. Complimenting them on their remarks the minister said that tolerance is part of good administration and that the petroleum organization. I have frequently received letters from many who informed me of their discoveries of massive mineral deposits or valuable ore occurrences. The idea that treasure mountains abound in the desert is so ingrained in popular culture that it has become part of Egyptian folklore. But I decided to stay and to respond. I took the microphone and for forty minutes I gave my answer to these accusations. It also seems that the minister. He then reminded the audience that he himself had appointed a Copt to head one of the companies of the petroleum organization. I must admit.

Everyone did that with great confidence and pride. He adjourned the meeting and promised to visit the survey. It was indeed to the credit of Mr. Most of the information provided and the com- 108 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . I talked about our successes in finding and developing replacements for the ores that had been lost in Sinai. Such reports were generally prepared by secret agents and included background information and impressions about individuals holding key positions in the government. In citing each one of these achievements I mentioned the name of the leader who was responsible for it and pointed him out from among those who were attending the meeting. At each project or department we visited I asked the one responsible. after I introduced him to the minister. As we came back to my office. I accompanied him on a tour to acquaint him with some of the survey’s activities. despite the fact that he himself had been the subject of similar malicious reports by the same agency. he embraced me and thanked me for the tour. After the talk a hush fell upon the hall and the minister probably felt that he had made a mistake by calling the meeting before consulting with me.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 108 My forty-minute talk was a summary of the achievements of the survey over the previous few years. True to his promise the reports arrived the following day. who had been apparently appointed by the mukhabarat to be their eyes in the survey. He confessed to me that he had been mistaken to believe the intelligence reports. He promised to forward to me a complete file of the reports about me. It was disheartening to find out that the reports that concerned me had been prepared at the urging of one of my closest associates. Wali that he had had the courage to disclose these reports and make them available to the person concerned. to explain the work of the project. and the new find of rare earth metals in the Eastern Desert. about the great discovery of the Abu Tartur phosphate deposit. I concluded my talk by asking the minister to visit the survey before passing any judgment. I also explained the work that had been done to reorganize the survey and to establish the new documentation center and the state-of-the-art central laboratories. A few days later he fulfilled his promise and came to visit me at my office. The minister was impressed.

The Abu Tartur Phosphate Project Comes to a Dead End Many of the decisions of this new breed of ministers of industry were not necessarily made with a view to the public interest. My efforts succeeded. They seem to have been made in accordance with an agenda that was set for them by special interest groups that had become influential in the mid 1970s. and the survey was re-affiliated with the ministry of industry in the cabinet reshuffle that took place in January 1972. the survey was a mere appendage with no defined role to play. the ministers made decisions that affected its future without consulting with the survey or with any other knowledgeable person. I admired him for his willingness to forego his views and for his readiness to reconsider his stand.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 109 plaints filed against me came from some of those whom I had helped most in their careers. I was of the belief that the survey had a role to play in industry as the supplier of its needed raw materials. This new affiliation. The project was transferred from the supervision of the TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 109 . In the domain of mineral wealth. did not help improve conditions. many of whom had been among the most obsequious to me. Attached to the ministry of petroleum. I lobbied hard to move the survey from under his jurisdiction and bring it back to the ministry of industry. especially after the appointment of a series of ministers of industry who did not seem to be knowledgeable about the needs of a wellintegrated industry or the importance of raw materials to it. Notwithstanding this new relationship that I had fostered with him. The few professionals who had sent complaints were from among those who had been recruited into the Muslim Brotherhood movement during their student days at the university. for example. but rather seemed to be little people who encouraged intrigue. My relationship with the minister improved greatly after his visit to the survey. One of these decisions that cost Egypt dearly and proved detrimental to the entire mining industry and its future was that which put the Abu Tartur phosphate project on the wrong path and led to its failure. however. on the other hand.

The analysis of the bulk sample was to be made in the laboratories of both the Soviet Union and the survey. I had emphasized the importance of involving our young scientists and engineers in these studies. The decision was also made without any consideration of the law. That location was to be determined after receiving the results of the analysis of the bulk sample that we had obtained from the experimental mine that had been opened up for the sole purpose of getting a representative sample of the ore. The board agreed that the decision was premature and recommended its immediate rescinding. as I could not imagine that the minister would take such an important decision without consulting with me on the matter. I wanted to train and prepare them to discuss intelligently. During these weeks rumors were circulating about the fate of the project. which relegated the administration of all mining projects to the geological survey. The minister made that fateful decision secretively and without any consultation with me or any other knowledgeable person. Until that report was received. all of which I dismissed. The survey was still waiting for the final report of the Soviet experts to determine the viability of the project and the best approach to its development. For this reason the bulk sample was divided into two equal parts that were sent to both laboratories. That office had no function after the complex was built. The order to remove the Abu Tartur project from the jurisdiction of the survey did not reach my office until weeks after the minister had signed it.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 110 geological survey and mining authority to a government office that had been originally formed to supervise the maze of contracts involved in the building of the Helwan iron and steel complex. despite his total ignorance of the details of the project and the basics of the mining industry. the foreign experts’ final report 110 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . When that decision finally reached my office I called the board of directors of the survey for an urgent meeting to discuss the effect of the order on the project and on the survey itself. and on an equal footing. and it did not have a single person on its staff that knew anything about mining. the survey did not even have answers to such basic questions as the most suitable location for the mine.

I sent to the minister the recommendation of the board of directors together with a long memorandum explaining the serious consequences that could result from relegating the affairs of the project to an office that had no experience in the art of mining. The decision and the memorandum went unanswered and the minister took no action. While the contract was being negotiated TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 111 . it was decided to forward them to a western foreign firm for evaluation. I had wanted to use the Abu Tartur project as a school to train our young employees in the art of evaluating ores and developing and building mines. It is interesting to note that the same contractors were the first to come to the rescue of the minister after he left office. A few months after the minister’s decision to transfer the project.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 111 when it was received. the Soviet experts’ report on the analysis of the bulk sample as well as the final report were ready. Because there was no one in that office capable of reading the reports or making any sense out of them. It is difficult to surmise the reasons behind the minister’s insistence on not taking the advice of the best experts on mining in the country. They were delivered to the new office that had now become responsible for the project. My suspicion is that he was working under pressure from large contracting firms that were lobbying to start the construction works of the project. The decision fitted the new political direction that Egypt had taken to decrease its collaboration with the Soviet Union. The new office contracted a French company to do that evaluation for a fee that exceeded four million pounds sterling. I had resisted these pressures and had insisted that we did not begin any construction work until we had completed our studies. offering him well-paid jobs in their service. No sooner had the project been transferred to its new supervisors than a spate of building and construction started around the old experimental mine.000 Egyptian pounds. In fact. It may be interesting to remind the reader that the cost of the many years of work that culminated in the report that was the subject of that evaluation was only about 250. They had already helped in opening the experimental mine and had shared in every study that had been made on the ore.

The survey would be able to hire all the experts it lacked for the evaluation of the report and strengthen its projects department and its new mining design office. The transfer proved disastrous at all levels. the transfer of the project shattered the dream of turning the survey into a national institute of excellence. It reached the Red Sea coast by cutting through the rugged mountain chain of the Eastern Desert rather than by following the flat path of Wadi Hammamat as we had originally proposed. The line would be cut after every torrential rain that the Red Sea hills receive in the fall. When the issue of that project was raised in parliament in 1996.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 112 with the French company I sent a letter to the prime minister asking him to consider assigning the examination and evaluation of that report to the geological survey. The group of amateurs who took over the project failed thoroughly in their task. some twenty-five years later. Not only did this add to the cost of its building but it made its maintenance much more difficult. I also expressed my doubts about the wisdom of choosing a French firm that was associated with the phosphate mining interests of North Africa. The letter went unanswered and the transfer of the project went ahead. a situation that could create a conflict of interest. There were no goods to transport or passengers to move. After squandering more than seven billion pounds that were showered on local contractors and international consulting firms in every corner of the earth there was little that they were able to show for that money. was abandoned shortly thereafter. The line itself had been laid down along an unsuitable path. On the national level it cost Egypt dearly. Egypt did not have a phosphate mine or anything else of any value. it might have cost the country less than one half the amount of money that was to go to the French firm. Even the railway line that was laid between Abu Tartur and the port of Safaga on the Red Sea. This would not only be more advantageous for the country but also considerably cheaper. On the level of the geological survey. and which was opened in a pompous ceremony attended by the president of the republic. It resulted in its loss of the applied part of the program of work that I had originally conceived for the survey when I formulated my 112 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE .

This meant that Egypt had lost the office where its mines and quarries could be designed and where the government could refer for review the reports it received from many foreign consulting firms. generation to make better use of it. On the personal level the transfer and failure of the project left me with me a sense of guilt. using the same methods and techniques. turn into a disaster and a burden. It ended the work of the mining designing office and aborted the training program of its engineers. The new organization was established secretively and without consulting with us. and hopefully more prudent. It was distressing to see the project. It did not seem to serve any particular purpose. Another step that further reduced that reach soon followed. and it looked strange and extravagant for a developing country to have two separate organizations. which I had conceived as bringing prosperity to Egypt and allowing it to make better use of its land. for mineral exploration. The new organization was soon busy digging tunnels in one of the mountains of the Red Sea range. I frequently blame myself for having brought to the attention of the present generation of decision makers the potential of that wealth. The survey’s jurisdiction over nuclear raw materials was taken away from it and given to a new organization that was established for the sole purpose of exploring and developing these materials. When I look back at my role in that major endeavor. as it came when mineral exploration in Egypt was undergoing great reductions. The timing of the announcement of the establishment of this new organization also raised questions. The project was of my own creation. which was being carried out in conjunction with the Polish mining institute at that time. claiming that it was evaluating a urani- TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 113 .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 113 plan to reorganize the mining organization. The Work of the Survey Downsized The removal of the Abu Tartur project from the survey was a step that diminished the scope of the survey’s work and reduced its budget and reach. It may have been wiser had I left it for a future.

Although it would be difficult to speculate on the real reason behind the digging of the tunnels. Kraisky reelected. Corruption Becomes Rampant The new policy of economic “opening” that Egypt began to pursue in the mid 1970s led to the restructuring of its economy and the deregulation of its industries and services. The country’s mineral wealth had for many years been considered a national asset and a monopoly of the state. it was difficult in this atmosphere to set the rules and guidelines that would have made this opening up beneficial to the nation and the investor. To anyone knowledgeable in the art of ore evaluation it seemed odd to go about it in this expensive manner. Sadat’s promise was made in good faith. Sadat offered to bury the waste in the expansive and barren deserts of Egypt. Assuming that there were good indications for the presence of this ore. which was opened up to the private sector for investment. Now that it had been opened up for investors there was a need to set some rules that would guide us in the process of granting concessions. Although it is almost certain that Mr. However. Getting rid of that waste had become an election issue. it is interesting to note that it was contemporaneous with the promise that President Sadat had made to President Kraisky of Austria to help him find a place to get rid of the waste of the proposed nuclear power plants that his party was contemplating building in Austria. Mr. there were other considerably cheaper methods to go about the evaluation. Keen to have Mr. who were relieved to know that they had escaped receiving the waste when the Austrian people opted not to expand their country’s nuclear powered plants. The hasty enforcement of deregulation generated an atmosphere that was conducive to the spread of corruption and suspicious deals. I found great resistance to setting any 114 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 114 um ore discovery that it had made. it stirred great anxiety among Egyptians. Rumors had it that the digging of the tunnels in a remote part of Egypt might have been related to that promise. With respect to the mining industry.

I prepared a booklet in which I included the most salient results of our research and ordered it to be handed over to these representatives. I had no option but to grant the concession. including from many a cabinet minister. In the 1970s almost every foreign corporation sent representatives to Egypt to probe its investment possibilities. A case in question was that of one applicant who sought to get a concession to exploit a certain mineral deposit located in one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the desert. This way I avoided losing my time meeting them. which were made available to him. They were clearly adventurers who were after a kill and many.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 115 rules. were outright crooks. It was signed by two professors of the National Research Council who had never visited the deposit. The presence of this deposit had been known for a long time and was the subject of extensive studies by the survey. The large mining corporations were no exception. which had deemed it unfeasible to exploit economically. TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 115 . he got a hefty loan. They did not have the technical or financial prowess to conduct any serious operation in the field of mining. With this report in hand. we could not grant him the concession unless he could show that he had undertaken a study proving that the deposit had economic potential. and my office was overwhelmed by requests from their representatives for information about the results of our research on the mineral wealth of the country. Many of those who overwhelmed the department of mining with their applications were clearly unqualified. There were pressures from all sides. He was reported to have been seen for about ten days roaming the area around the deposit in a four-wheel-drive car. to leave the whole matter to be completely unregulated and to facilitate the process of the granting of concessions for mineral exploration and exploitation to any applicant. We informed the applicant that in view of these results. In a few days he was able to provide the survey with a report that claimed that the deposit was of economic value and worth exploiting. after which he disappeared from the scene altogether leaving the bank with a bad loan. When these requests became too numerous. which the applicant then took to the bank together with the report of the two professors. as we discovered later.

not one single investor has come to Egypt to invest in its mines. They frequently ended in results that were of no obvious use to Egypt or to the institutions in which the research had been conducted. Everyone who succeeded me in presiding over the survey worked under the delusion that he could attract foreign mining companies to Egypt to invest. but this warning went unheeded. Much of this was due to the absence on the Egyptian side of leaders who felt scientifically on a par with their foreign counterparts and who could help in fashioning and directing these programs to the mutual benefit of both sides. foreign workers in scientific research rushed to it in order to conduct joint research programs with its universities and other centers of learning. I had always warned against waiting for foreign investors to exploit Egypt’s mineral wealth. They could only be used locally to provide its industry with valuable raw materials. and there is not a single foreign or joint company that is working in the field of mineral exploitation today. In many a case. The success of these presidents was measured by their ability to bring over these investors.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 116 as I was certain that the minerals with which Egypt was endowed would not be of interest to large corporations. My initial hope that these programs would help Egypt disappeared as I saw them failing to benefit the Egyptian institutions and in some cases even harming them. these services were generously rewarded by hefty sums of money that were frequently paid under the table. It may be worth mentioning that after thirty years of this policy. Most of the joint programs that I was familiar with ended up with the Egyptian side rendering the services that were essential for the programs’ functioning and contributing little or nothing to their scientific content. who refrained from coming to Egypt. I have the feeling that in most cases this 116 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . Joint Scientific Programs Founder Unlike foreign investors. Many of the joint research programs were of no obvious relevance to Egypt’s needs or its priorities.

It was envisaged as though the geology of Tunisia were to be worked out from scratch. These programs seem to have been part of an agenda that had been set solely by the foreign counterpart. water. there was little that the Egyptian principal investigator could have done to redirect them from their intended aim. it would not be beneficial to either the American or the Egyptian side to have such an obvious presence. however. I began to have my doubts about the value of these programs shortly after their large-scale launch in Egypt in 1974. were free from such constraint and could have been changed to the benefit of Egypt. I also pointed out that I was not in favor of having a large presence of American scientists on the program. such as those that dealt with energy. Egypt had long passed the stage of descriptive geology and was now at a stage when it needed to concentrate its efforts on improving upon the performance of some fields of the earth sciences with which it had failed to keep abreast. I explained to him that my proposal would concentrate on the development of certain areas in the field of the earth sciences in which Egypt TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 117 . had the foreign counterpart found an Egyptian principal investigator with the vision and knowledge to suggest workable alternatives. when a representative of the US national science foundation came to visit me in my office to invite the survey to consider working with relevant American institutions of learning on a joint research program. It is true that in the case of some programs. He suggested that it might be best for the survey to structure its program along the same lines as the joint Tunisian-South Carolina University program funded by the national science foundation and initiated some years earlier. When the representative of the national science foundation returned.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 117 was due primarily to the laxity of the Egyptian principal investigator. The majority of the programs. He gave me a copy of the Tunisian program to study and to take as a model to guide me in writing my proposed program. and social studies. I informed him it would be difficult for me to fashion my proposal after the Tunisian model since it did not fit Egypt’s needs. When I looked at the Tunisian program I was appalled by its size and scope and also by the large number of American scientists and assistants involved in it.

left my office. was secretly given to that unit without the knowledge of the geological survey. which was funded by the Egyptian government and USAID. oilfields.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 118 needed help. designed along the same lines as the Tunisian program. and ground water reservoirs from space without going to the effort of carrying out any tedious work on the ground. He succeeded in turning the unit. let alone make use of. conceived and funded by the academy of science. there was little that this program could show. He folded his papers. and went straight to the office of the newly-established organization of nuclear materials. The contract for the geological map project. There was hardly a mention of the results of its work in any scientific publication. This naive message was aggressively used by the head of that unit to sell its services to the government as well as to the private sector. after all. Another equally disastrous program in the field of the earth sciences. into a private consulting firm that monopolized the use of remote sensing for his own benefit. The introduction of this program was accompanied by an extensive campaign to sell it to the public as one of the miracles of science. whose marvels included the power to detect mineral resources. whose primary function it was to carry it out. My comments took the representative of the national science foundation by surprise. It went straight into the 118 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . Not a single report or project that this unit contracted for and was involved in stood the test of time or the standards of the profession. of unraveling all secrets and solving all problems without the need to exert any effort. The result was a map that no one even cared to look at. Space imagery would indeed make classical methods of geology obsolete. in which a useful scientific technique was misused was that of the then newly introduced technique of remote sensing for which a unit was established in the Egyptian academy of science and funded by the American agency for international development (USAID). where he succeeded in launching a large joint research program between that organization and the department of geology of South Carolina University. Modern technology was capable. The unit was headed by an Egyptian-American engineer seconded from one of the American universities for the job. After many years of work and several million pounds squandered.

the United Arab Emirates. December 24. was none other than that Egyptian-American space scientist. the samples were sent to the appropriate departments by an envoy from among the staff of the American embassies.” The Arab royals were impressed and were “lavish in their welcome. via a special emissary. quickly claiming him as their own. who was known for “his talent as a story teller and for his indisputable allure. Bahrain. America was “seriously inconvenienced by the rift with the Arab oil-producing countries and was casting about for ways of easing the tension. A good example of this use may be gleaned from the amusing story of the return of an Egyptian-American space scientist to Egypt in the 1970s and his appointment as the scientific advisor to the president of the republic. Qatar. and Kuwait amid “substantial media coverage” that was designed to “reach the royals’ ears. it all happened after the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s during the years of the Nixon administration.” It accepted NASA’s “elegant” solution to impress the leaders of these countries by sending them. According to the story that was told by this scientist to the Cairo Times magazine (issue 22. a slice of the moon rock that had been collected from the moon during the historic voyage that landed on it in 1969. For all other countries due to receive slices of that rock. however.” He “regaled them with stories of space travel in melodious Arabic.” TOWARD A NEW MINING INDUSTRY | 119 . He informed them that he had sent a page of the Qur’an up there” and “had named several lunar and Martian features after great Islamic mathematicians and astronomers. 1998) and repeated on the web page of Boston University where he worked. The emissary that was chosen to impress the heads of state of the Arab oil-producing countries. the head of that unit was able to find a way out of the corruption and embezzlement charges that were leveled against him and were the subject of investigations by government auditing agencies for years.” He traveled to Saudi Arabia. Most of the money of that multimillion-pound project was wasted and a good part of it was unaccounted for. Using a complicated system of accounting in which public and private funds were muddled up. The 1970s witnessed the use of science as an instrument of politics on a large scale.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 119 garbage bin.

” The president met the scientist and heard from him his melodious stories about space and its magical powers to find the hidden wealth of the desert wasteland. it can be safely said that it has been minimal or even negative. Although it would be difficult to evaluate the impact of these programs.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 120 Egypt was not on the list of countries that was to be visited by this scientist. which have engrossed practically every institution of learning and dominated the scene of scientific research in Egypt over the past thirty years. He did not want to miss a chance to attract the attention of the American administration. I wrote a letter to the attaché thanking him in the name of the Egyptian government and informing him that the slice had been deposited and exhibited in the geological museum in Cairo. for it was certain that Egypt would not have been taken in by such ploys intended to impress the “robed majesties. and the omission of Egypt from that list irked President Sadat. then minister of foreign affairs. who was depicted pointing to the locations of the hidden mineral. The newspapers of the morning following that meeting carried on their front pages a photograph of the president looking at an image of Egypt from space that had been brought by this scientist. It did not occur to the American administration that the omission of Egypt from that list would cause any problems. Its slice of the moon rock was handed to me in my capacity as the head of the geological survey by the scientific attaché of the American embassy in Cairo. especially when it came via one of his compatriots. With the appearance of this photograph the president of Egypt had joined the club of cloak-wearing excellencies and majesties! In brief. “who dutifully returned to Egypt for the first time in eight years. The contribution of many of these programs to the 120 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . He asked Isma‘il Fahmi. and water treasures. He appointed him a personal scientific advisor. oil. to summon the prodigal son. it can be safely said that the politicization of the joint scientific programs caused great harm to these programs. A cursory examination of Egypt’s centers of learning would find most of them in worse condition today than they were before the initiation of these programs. and reduced their potential for improving the performance of Egypt’s scientific institutions.” But this certainty proved to be wrong.

Having lost all hope that anything constructive could be done under these circumstances I decided to resign from my job.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 121 national economy or to the training of personnel was dubious at best. and the ministers who were picked to run their affairs were among the most inconsequential. Less than four years later I was forced to move my consulting office to the United States when I found EXITING PUBLIC OFFICE | 121 . He accepted it instantaneously. These two fields were the last on the list of priorities of the country’s new leadership. My resignation ended my career in public service and began my new career as an independent consultant. Their power was greatly reduced and was for the main part taken over by clandestine agencies whose functions and prerogatives were undisclosed. and before getting the approval of the prime minister as the law stipulates. The few names of Egyptian scientists that appear among the list of authors of these papers were added as a matter of courtesy and. I presented my resignation to the minister of industry in November 1977. I discussed the matter with my wife Wadad who agreed and encouraged me to go ahead. without even the knowledge of these scientists. Many did not know the content of the papers that had carried their names. Most of the credit for the scientific papers that were published as a result of these programs should go to the foreign counterpart. in many instances. There was little that the Egyptian side could show for the millions of pounds that had been invested in these programs. who were escalating their campaign against me. and the few I contacted did not have a copy to exchange with their fellow scientists. Exiting Public Office It should now be apparent that the change of policy of the 1970s made it difficult to conduct any serious work in the fields of industry or scientific research. On the personal level. The atmosphere that these agencies created was stifling and was conducive to the spread of corruption and charlatanism. I started to get impatient with the harassment of the intelligence agencies.

That hope never materialized.500 other personalities who had been ordered to be jailed by President Sadat in September 1981. under whose supervision the survey had again been placed in 1984. each accusing the other of violations that were investigated by secret service agents who almost took over the survey. during which time the leadership of the survey changed five times. I will relate the details and effects of this momentous event on my life and my family’s fortunes in a later chapter. in which I spent the most productive years of my life. and appoint to university positions those who did not deserve them. converting it into a super- 122 | VENTURES IN SCIENCE . This stand forced me into clashes with many influential people who did not share with me the commitment to public interest that I believed should steer the work of a public officer. the minister of petroleum. As for the future of the geological survey. Looking back at my career in public life I can safely say that it was shaped and driven by ideals that I tried to live by and was able not to compromise even in the most difficult of times. after a few years of fruitful work. decided to shelve its leadership and to delegate an outsider to run it and to bring back some semblance of order to it. As soon as I left the survey they started infighting.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 122 out that I was listed among 1. After six years of this. The new head brought back order to the survey. bringing it to a state of utter confusion. In the field of industry. guided by rules of conduct that emphasized objectivity and fairness. although I had little confidence that its directors were able enough for the job. During my university years I worked toward setting an example of sound. I entered into many battles with those who had taken over its leadership when it was in retreat. I was close to sixty-two years of age when this move took place. No wonder that my resignation was accepted with a sigh of relief and without a word of thanks. I had hoped that after I left a new leadership would imbue it with new life. but he also reduced the scope of its work. award unmerited degrees. high quality scientific research. That put me squarely in collision with many professors who did not care about such rules and who were ready to fake the results of examinations. I saw many of these new leaders misusing their office and making fortunes for themselves.

when we were able to turn it around from its total collapse. Despite the great efforts that have been made. Such an activity can create jobs for the hundreds of thousands who enter the labor market every year.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 123 visory body for the work of the foreign companies that he had hoped to attract to explore and exploit the mineral wealth of the country. for there will always be that hope that they will regain their rightful place in the life of the country. My generation seemed to have lost the battle to build an institution of excellence in the field of scientific research that could help make use of the natural resources of the country rationally and in a sustainable manner. This situation continued for seven years until 1991. The kind of industry I am talking about here is one that makes use of local materials. It also lost the battle to build a first class university that would stand on a par with other prestigious universities of the world. It is also the activity that can give a mission and an impetus to national research institutions to prosper. With hardly any serious offers coming from these companies. Within less than two years and under difficult conditions and with very limited budgets the geological survey rose like the legendary phoenix to play a dynamic role in the life of the country. bringing us back to where we started. EXITING PUBLIC OFFICE | 123 . Truly the Egyptians are capable of performing miracles when they know their goal and find committed leadership. Since that year the survey has attempted to regain its role under a leadership from among its staff. this sad ending should not be taken as sealing the fate of these institutions. This has not been solely my experience but that of Egypt throughout the ages. I find none other that of aggressive industrialization. Whenever I consider the path that Egypt should follow if it is to avoid a future of increasing poverty. it was difficult for the survey to find a place for itself in an economy that lacked an industrialization program With this sad ending time seemed to have run its course. However. One can garner this hope from the story that I have just related in this chapter about the organization that I presided over in 1968. the survey became such a small department that it was possible to run it from the office of the head of an oil company that took over its responsibilities.

Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 124 .

The withdrawal was regarded by the revolutionary regime as part of a bigger plot conceived by hostile foreign powers in cooperation with local renegades. aspirations like these were not uncommon or unrealistic. and launched a large-scale social and economic program. The belief that the regime was under attack and was the target of a plot changed the revolution’s posture and made it reach out to the people and the intellectuals in an attempt to earn their support and VENTURES IN POLITICS | 125 .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 125 4 Ventures in Politics 1961–1976 F or ten years after my return in 1951 from my study mission abroad I stayed deeply involved in my work at Cairo University. That confidence was shaken in 1961 with the withdrawal of Syria from the union it had forged with Egypt some three years earlier. They mistrusted the intellectuals. entered into union with Syria. The members of the revolution were full of confidence. The first ten years of the life of the revolution were marked by a series of successes. nationalized the Suez Canal. In those days. gave Egypt a visible presence on the international scene. It rid the country of the corrupt monarchy. ended British occupation and realized independence. During these years. My preoccupation was to build a first class geology department in Cairo University that would be equal in standard to that of Harvard. who were intentionally kept out of the political process. devoting all my time to research and the training of students. there was no place for the participation of anyone in the political process other than the members of the revolution and their confidants who had taken over the reins of power in July 1952.

made education free. These programs did not impress the propertied class. which abstained from financing them. the regime did not yet have the confidence that its supporters could compete and succeed in a free election. enforced a new and more progressive labor law. Until that time the ancien regime would be alive and well despite the great setbacks it had suffered as a result of the reforms that the revolution had introduced. It wanted to mobilize the masses for its defense and in particular that segment that the regime believed had benefited from its reforms. At that juncture my political involvement with the regime began. The new regime started by enacting a series of bills that limited land ownership. It also initiated an ambitious program of development. a goal that the new regime had adopted and considered of equal importance to that of the realization of independence from the British. my name appeared among the members of both the preliminary committee and the conference. Ten years after the revolution. The members of both the committee and the conference were appointees. and health services available to a larger number of people.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 126 confidence. When that capital did not come voluntarily. For that end it called for the convening of a preparatory conference of a select group of people to discuss and adopt a document that would embody the philosophy and goals of the regime and serve as a basis for the mobilization of the people and the building of a political party. To my surprise. It harbored great suspicions of the regime’s intentions and was frightened of its slogans about socialism and the bridging of the gap between the rich and the poor. including the building of the large Aswan High Dam on the Nile to assure Egypt of a larger and more regular share of the waters of the river. despite the many incentives it advanced and the many laws it enacted to encourage private investment. Repeated attempts by the regime to attract private capital and lure the propertied class to invest in its programs failed. the regime took the bold 126 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . These reforms aimed at bringing about a more equitable distribution of wealth. A preliminary committee was summoned to set down the rules that would govern the selection of the community leaders who would sit in that conference. which convened in 1961 and 1962 respectively.

this precipitated the Suez war. who were suppressed in a manner that raised indignation. a step that was carried out with a nationalist overtone since most private capital was in foreign hands. The aim of the preliminary committee that was summoned in 1961 was to find a way to get over this impasse and pave the way for that participation. namely the farmers. I do not know how my name came to appear among the appointed members of the preliminary committee and the convention. was to discuss and espouse a charter which would outline the policies that the country planned to assume. The nationalizations. however. It proposed to build a party and convene a parliament that would be made up of the “working forces” of the nation. Five years later a large number of private companies were nationalized under the so-called socialist laws of 1961. the professionals and the national capitalists. The nationalized capital was used to finance a program of development that enlarged the economy and brought about full employment. It recommended the exclusion of the traditional leadership from the party and the new parliament and the restriction of the right of nomination and voting to the working forces only. The nationalization began with the Suez Canal Company in 1956. the narrowing of the gap between the rich and the poor and the adoption of a socialist stance. the workers. the central role of the public sector in the development of the country. It also recommended the passing of affirmative action legislation that would guarantee one half of the seats of parliament to workers and farmers. since those countries had been party to that war. The charter emphasized the Arab identity of Egypt. This was followed by the nationalization of British and French companies. which was held in 1962. led the regime onto a collision course with the propertied classes and the religious right. These principles were incorporated in the 1971 constitution of Egypt which is still the law of the land until today despite the dramatic changes that have completely reversed the bearing of Egypt since then. The aim of the convention.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 127 step of nationalizing it. These appointments were made in secrecy and decided upon by a closed circle VENTURES IN POLITICS | 127 . and created an atmosphere that did not allow for any form of popular political participation.

The depth of antagonism that ensued between the intellectuals and the new leadership in the aftermath of these events can be measured by the subsequent extensive purge of more than fifty university professors from their posts. the president of the republic.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 128 of confidants. This wing was led by Muhammad Nagib. the real force behind the revolution. The split happened when one wing of the council wanted to end military rule and to return to the parliamentary system of government. This wing believed that the immediate undertaking of elections would result in the return of the corrupt leadership of the ancien regime and the end of the revolution. Much to the disgruntlement of the majority of the intellectuals. and was supported by some army units. The purge was dubbed “the university massacre” and was the subject of many writings by people who had lived through it. I was one among many who were invited to contribute to the page by its editor Lutfi al-Khuli. and was backed by most units of the army. The newspaper initiated an opinion page where intellectuals were encouraged to write. It called for the immediate undertaking of elections and the return to that system of popular government. who had sided with Muhammad Nagib. when a split in the revolutionary council brought Egypt to the brink of civil war. and with great hesitation. Upon his insistence. I started writing articles on the important role of universities and scientific research in the life and future of the nation. He seemed to have heard about me from some of his colleagues who used to attend my lectures at the university. 128 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . Members of that wing wanted to postpone the elections until the revolution had gathered enough public support to enable its candidates to have a chance to win. The rift between the intellectuals and the regime had become obvious during the 1954 crisis. This was opposed by another wing that was led by Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser. I can only guess that the appearance of my name on the lists of appointees may have been related to the campaign that al-Ahram newspaper. none of whom could have known me. had launched to involve intellectuals in public affairs in an attempt to regain their confidence. this wing got the upper hand and won. under the editorship of Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal.

Asyut province.” who were encouraged to participate in the parliamentary elections. The elections were free.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 129 In 1964 the revolutionary council felt confident that the party it had built in the wake of the convention of 1962 had developed enough public support to warrant the start of a parliamentary democracy. Among the reforms that were specified in the firman was the right of all subjects of the porte to perform their religious duties freely and without coercion to forsake their religion. Upper Egypt. it gave the right of issuing permits for building or repairing churches to the Ottoman sultan. There was no reason for the government to interfere or tamper with the results of the elections. It VENTURES IN POLITICS | 129 . Although this distancing had become more obvious after the rise of the religious right. The results of the elections shocked the political leadership inasmuch as only one Copt had been elected to the new parliament. To remedy this situation. and nominated themselves for parliamentary seats. Although the firman of 1856 was part of the reform measures that the Ottoman porte had undertaken to ensure the principle of equality for all its subjects irrespective of their race or creed. ready to defend it and live with its goals. even though it remains one of the main issues preventing the ending of the legacy of a discriminatory past. Few people are willing to raise the issue of the gerrymandering that has been practiced to the disadvantage of the Copts in every election since 1923. the election law was hastily amended to give the president of the republic the right to appoint ten members to the parliament. He was elected from the town of Sedfa. all the nominees were counted among its supporters. it had roots that extended deep into the government bureaucracy itself. That aspect of the problem is seldom mentioned or talked about. Such a result should have been expected in the elections since there had been a gradual process of distancing the Copts from public life and service. Thousands of average middle-class and little-known members of this alliance took advantage of the new rules set by the preliminary committee that excluded the traditional leadership. Fewer people are willing to discuss the forces that oppose the abolition of the Hamayuni firman of 1856 that makes the building and repair of churches extremely difficult. The party was made up of an alliance of the “working forces.

The firman was applied to Egypt. were hard to meet. but 130 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . which was then part of the Ottoman empire. Going back to the 1964 parliamentary elections.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 130 promised to take immediate measures to secure the safety of every community of non-Muslims irrespective of its numbers and to grant it a proportionate share of public service jobs. under pressure from world public opinion. it must be admitted that the failure of the Copts to get but one seat must have been a source of worry to the political leadership and to President Nasser in particular. to effect any change in its substance. Military service was to be mandatory for all the subjects of the porte. Giving the sultan the right to grant the necessary permits to build and repair churches assured the execution of the firman to the letter. They made the construction or repair of churches almost impossible. and not just Muslims as before. It remained in the hands of the head of state to grant the permit to build or repair churches but the preparatory work that had to be done before the granting of the permit was entrusted to the ministry of the interior. The extent of the resistance to its repeal at all levels of the bureaucracy is such that it was not possible for the head of state. The ministry put ten stipulations that the applications for the construction or repair of a church had to satisfy before recommending the granting of the permit. The firman was stripped of all its injunctions except the one pertaining to the construction and repair of churches. the most that he was able to do was to delegate his powers of granting the permits to local governors. It also ordered the deletion from all formal documents of any language derogatory of any group or community of people. It allowed the heads of the Christian communities to deal directly with the sultan and to avoid dealing with local governors. This failure not only signaled the extent of the influence of the religious right. which had been able to force its agenda on the national scene. It was the only firman that remained in force after the declaration of independence of Egypt and the promulgation of the 1923 constitution. which were annexed to the firman in 1934. it is still in force. Despite the many appeals for the repeal of the firman. After the disintegration of that empire the firman was abrogated in all its domains except Egypt. These stipulations. Even as late as 1998.

the representation of Copts in parliament has become dependent on the grace of the president and not on the will of the people. which frequently involves religious institutions in its decisions. excluding me. the government frequently seeks the assistance of the religious establishment VENTURES IN POLITICS | 131 . It was a source of great pain to me to see the regime involving religious institutions in the choice of political appointees. I was not happy with this appointment. But because of the fragility of civil society and the little faith the government has in its institutions.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 131 also the depth of the rift that had befallen the unity of the nation. as it confirmed a feeling I had had since my return from my study mission abroad that I had become the other in my own country. A vibrant civil society would foster the process of democracy and would allow the people to vent their views freely in any of its institutions. The fact that the regime had to depend on the only Coptic cabinet minister for choosing the Coptic appointees was indicative of the times. It meant that Copts had become isolated and were known only to their co-religionists. leaving it no choice but to resort to the religious institutions. This contradiction is the result of the fragility. of institutions of civil society to which the government can turn when it needs to reach out to the people. The increasing dependence of the regime on these institutions was a course I had wished Egypt would not take. if not the outright absence. which was supervised by second tier revolutionary army officers. this hope has not materialized to this day. The two lists were then screened by the Coptic section of the security apparatus. My unhappiness intensified when I learned that the final list of Copts appointed to the new parliament. the sole Coptic cabinet minister. is the same government that does not permit the establishment of political parties that are based on religion. It was hoped that the appointment of a number of Copts to the newly elected parliament would be a temporary remedy and that future elections would bring them back as elected members. had been chosen from two lists of candidates that had been prepared by the Coptic patriarchate and by Dr. Unfortunately. Kamal Ramzy Stino. It is remarkable that the government. The president appointed me to the Egyptian parliament in 1964.

and to support the nomination of the president of the republic. was different from the parliaments of western democracies in that all its members belonged to one party. Parliament did not have the authority to appoint the government or to approve candidates for any of the key government posts. such as the presidency or the ministries of foreign affairs. let alone changing it. but that freedom was limited when it came to deal with the affairs of the socalled “sovereign” ministries and departments. affairs of the state. All the members seem to have been genuinely convinced of the rightness of the principles of that party and of the policies of the government that had articulated them. All were ready to defend the government under all circumstances and not one had the slightest intention of embarrassing it. The members had great freedom in discussing and criticizing the service-sector ministries. The budget. the Arab Socialist Union. Had my name been forwarded to these agencies. of which I was a member. or intelligence. Had there been a vibrant civil society. the government might not have been forced to resort to these institutions and the people might not have used them to express their views. it would have appeared in the formal form and would have included my family name. The use of my informal name in the presidential decree confirms this suspicion. I was the only one of the appointed Copts in the 1964 parliament whose name did not appear on the two preliminary lists. defense. I suspect that my name was added to the final list of appointees hurriedly and seemingly without being screened by the security agencies. It functioned primarily as a platform that was used by the government to promulgate its programs and by the members to convey the requests and complaints of the people they represented. and all proposed laws were passed easily and without 132 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . to repeal the agrarian reform bills. It sought the help of that establishment to pass the Egyptian-Israeli peace accords. My Years in Parliament The Egyptian parliament of 1964.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 132 whenever it has a controversial law it wants to pass.

and established instead three platforms that represented the right. who was then the speaker of MY YEARS IN PARLIAMENT | 133 . prompting the president of the republic to continue using his prerogative to appoint a number of them to parliament to remedy the situation. despite the enormous changes that have taken place in the world and in Egypt itself. left. This system of limited democracy that started in 1964 continues to this day. 1969. Its orchestrated discussions and foregone decisions did not enhance its standing or its authority. The institution of parliament had never enjoyed great credibility with the masses. as well as the president of the parliament. The law included restrictions that constrained their freedom and severely limited their effectiveness.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 133 any serious discussion. In the mid 1970s Egypt abandoned the one-party system. unless the political leadership wanted to gauge public reaction toward particular legislation that it planned to introduce. Women also fared badly in the elections. Six other elections have been held since then (the last in 2000) under the multi-party system. The legislative work was expedited by the chairs of the committees. The primary duty of the chairs of the committees. even if that entailed a deliberately cursory examination. dissolved the Arab Socialist Alliance. These platforms soon became the nuclei of three separate parties. who was responsible for discipline. a practice that is still followed to this day. and their representation was also increased by presidential appointments. was to pass government legislation and other affairs of state smoothly. Three elections were held in Egypt under the one-party system (1964. I have also seen parliament accepting to list the budget of many of the government’s departments under one figure and without any itemization. I have seen the budget of the state passed in a matter of hours and without any serious discussion. and center wings of that alliance. In all these elections the Copts did not succeed in getting fair representation. I presented to Anwar Sadat. which acted as an umbrella organization for all nationalist forces. In attempting to help change this picture. who were chosen from among confidants with strong ties to the party’s whip. to which were added many more in accordance with a law that regulated the formation and activities of new parties. and 1971) and I was appointed in all three of them.

In fact. so that counting would be done by roll call rather than by the raising of hands. and it wielded no power with regard to the budget of their ministries. irrespective of how many hands were raised. the two main functions of parliament in the domains of legislation and the overseeing of the executive branch of government were difficult to carry out. The function of overseeing the government in particular was never a serious matter in the parliaments I knew. All ended up in a motion to proceed with the ordinary business of parliament. This proposal would have made members responsible for their vote and would have made their position vis-à-vis the different laws a matter of public record. overseeing the affairs of the government was. He must have conjectured that it would have made the passing of the government’s proposed laws or undertakings less certain. and still is. an extremely difficult task because of the non-transparency of all government actions. The speaker of parliament did not consider the proposal worthy of any further discussion. It was a matter of great difficulty to get any information on any of the affairs of the state. I did not see from the parliamentary leadership any effort to introduce new members to the nature of parliamentary work or to offer them the research facilities that could have provided them with the necessary information and statistical data that would have made their work more effective. at least in the case of important legislation. It is difficult to envision parliament as an institution having any effectiveness in an environment lacking in transparency. The existing procedure of vote casting by raising the hands assured their passage with ease. No wonder none of the questions or accusations leveled against cabinet ministers during my three terms in parliament succeeded in incriminating any of them or in effecting any change. It would also have enabled the voters to judge their representatives according to their stand on issues. Parliament did not have any say in the appointment of the ministers. The existing system of government is built to grant the executive branch all the powers and to elevate it beyond accountability. Without the availability of information. There were times when even the simplest statistical data was considered a 134 | VENTURES IN POLITICS .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 134 parliament. a proposal to change the way votes were cast in parliament.

Among the revelations that my tenure in parliament exposed me to was how limited the impact of the enlightenment movement that had accompanied the nationalist uprising had been on the bulk of Egyptians. Before coming to parliament I was under the impression that this lifestyle had disappeared or at least was on its way to disappearing. it was basically medieval in its sources and attitudes. During that decade the religious right received funding and support from the western powers and from their allies in the Arab world. Having lived in the city all my life and having moved among Westernized communities. They believed that their fate was MY YEARS IN PARLIAMENT | 135 . Every time I listened to these interventions I was reminded of the picture of the Egyptian of the early years of the nineteenth century as depicted in Edward William Lane’s book The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptian. who are still bound to a culture that does not differ from that prevalent in medieval times. I listened to hundreds of speeches and interventions that used language and arguments based mainly on old sayings and naïve parables extracted from books that had been written hundreds of years ago. I not only found it deeply ingrained but also gaining ground and adapting to modern challenges by adopting the jargon and slogans of the religious right. Most members were not very much different from the picture given in that book. There is no doubt that the principle of supervising the affairs of the state cannot be upheld with any effectiveness without asserting the principle of transparency. Despite the fact that the tone became more assertive and militant. This is due to two main reasons. One relates to the background of the elected members. who were still leading a life that did not differ greatly from that which prevailed in medieval times. Much to my surprise. While in parliament. which were accepted literally and without any criticism.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 135 secret and was not available to the public. The empowerment of parliament to carry out effectively its two functions of legislation and overseeing the affairs of state would be difficult to achieve under present-day conditions in Egypt. which was on the rise during the 1970s. inasmuch as it does not encourage debate. I had never thought that the norms and measures of this lifestyle could survive the challenges of the age. Their education was derived from the same sources.

which was chaired by the late Dr. Dr. attending sessions to communicate with spirits and mediums. reciting incantations. especially since it happened barely one year after the accession of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III to the patriarchate of the Coptic orthodox church. three Muslims and three Copts. It was rumored that the president was about to take a vengeful step against the patriarch but was advised by some of his close advisers to take the matter calmly and to leave it for parliament to investigate. Gamal al-‘Utayfi.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 136 not theirs to determine but was in the hands of invisible powers that they had to appease by offering sacrifice. In the 1950s the petroleum authority was ordered to drill a well at a particular location in Egypt’s Western Desert that had been determined by a medium who had been asked by a leading member of the revolution to find the place where oil was present. or asking for the intercession of holy saints. and traveling to far off places to visit pious saints. Much to my chagrin I found out this culture was quite pervasive. This gave me a chance to be exposed to the thoughts and views of a sector of people that I would not ordinarily have had any 136 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . The procession of the Coptic priests in the streets of the town infuriated President Sadat. I became more familiar with this way of thinking when I was appointed a member of the parliamentary fact-finding committee that was created in 1972 to investigate the incidents of sectarian strife that had become frequent during that year. and was even accepted by many of the educated and city dwellers. In this culture wealth was not generated by effort but fell from the sky in bounty. I have seen cabinet ministers and decision makers carrying charms. He held many meetings and traveled to all the spots that were reported to have seen an incident of sectarian strife or tension. burning candles. the distinguished attorney. I accompanied him in most if not all these meetings and travels. reciting incantations. which was to protest against the closure of one of the churches of the town. consulting oracles and astrologers. especially after the demonstration of Coptic priests in the streets of the small town of Khanka to the northeast of Cairo. It was feared that these incidents would escalate into a serious confrontation. ‘Utayfi took his work seriously. Parliament created a committee of six members.

They run and control the Egyptian economy under cover and have long range plans to proselytize Egypt and turn it into a Christian country filled with churches.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 137 chance to meet. and many others. and in building their churches. priests who had been accused of proselytizing Muslims. In fact. and education to effect their long range plan to demean Muslims and to prevent them from having medical treatment or proceeding with the education of their children. although one heard more frequently of the discriminatory practices that Copts face in getting jobs. This picture is probably different from that which an average Egyptian would have about the religious other. In this respect we were frequently reminded of the large number of churches that line Ramses Street. carry a legacy of tolerance and acceptance of the other. there were indi- MY YEARS IN PARLIAMENT | 137 . visiting every place where strife had been reported or where sectarian tension was on the rise. Although what we observed must not be looked upon as representing a general trend. who have not been exposed to the teachings of the schools that fell into the hands of religious fanatics or to the sermons of the zealots who took over some places of worship. men responsible for mosques and churches. The image of the Copts for many Muslims is that they are rich and miserly. which they have plans to build everywhere. I must remind the reader here that the picture of the religious other that I described above was gathered from our meetings with people who were living in the centers of religious strife and tension. it was nonetheless alarming enough because it showed that religious intolerance can easily spread and take root. We traveled all over Egypt. These encounters gave us a picture of how the religious “other” is viewed by a large section of the urban poor. their churches and monasteries stacked with gold. members of dervish sects and orders. in practicing their religious rites. The picture of a Muslim in the eyes of a Copt was similar. pharmacy. They hold a disproportionate number of government jobs and of the national wealth. Most Egyptians. We met the officials and responsible personnel of many governmental and non-governmental religious institutions. Copts were viewed as fanatic people who intentionally go into the professions of medicine. the main thoroughfare in the heart of Cairo.

the decision that was made by the real estate registry office in the 1970s to ask everyone conducting a real estate transaction to declare his religious affiliation on the transaction forms. for example. and we went to look at the street with new eyes. as can be gleaned from some of the government’s actions.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 138 cations that it had reached the highest levels of government. Although no reason was given for this unnecessary requirement. I believe that it was stipulated to verify the truth of the rumor circulating among some fanatics that the Copts had a design to establish a Coptic independent state in Upper Egypt by buying a large and contiguous chunk of land there. This complaint surprised both Dr. President Sadat himself had alluded to this design in one of his long and frequent speeches in parliament. ‘Utayfi and myself. Similarly. had been built in accordance with an agreement between the Egyptian and the British governments in the early years of the twentieth century in which the Egyptian government had granted this piece of land to Britain for the building of a church in Cairo. Egyptian citizens do not take part 138 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . the records of the registry offices proved that the rumor was a hoax. With the exception of the Coptic patriarchy all the other churches belonged to foreign missions. We found that the street did have many churches. the tearing down of the English cathedral at the apex of Ramses Street in Cairo (it was rebuilt in a side street in the Zamalek district) and the rebuilding of the small mosque that stood in Ramses Square to become the tallest building in town were part of a plan to change the landscape of Ramses Street. which could only be explained by assuming that they had been taken by religiously intolerant or paranoid functionaries. The English cathedral. in return for a piece of land that had been granted to Egypt in London for the building of a mosque that is still standing to this day. The second reason that hampers the empowerment of parliament is that it represents a foreign body in a society none of whose dealings is governed by the democratic process. I have already mentioned that we frequently heard during our encounters complaints about the large number of churches that lined Ramses Street. Take. a feature that many did not see fitting for Cairo as a Muslim capital. which had stood at the apex of the street overlooking the Nile and which was torn down. As expected.

where the father stands master. and from the affirmative action rulings that favored workers and farmers. They all made it on their own and without the help of anyone. that there can be a place for a functional parliament. where the individual is not taught the art of dialogue and is not allowed to participate in running his or her affairs. One of them expressed his chagrin to me. Even when the students are given the chance to elect their councils at the university level we impose many restrictions on the freedom of movement of these councils. and they spent their nights in Cairo in some of its humblest hotels. The political leadership MY YEARS IN PARLIAMENT | 139 . as we sipped a cup of coffee in the Pharaonic Hall of the parliament building. and third-rate countryside lawyers replacing the dignitaries who used to occupy the seats of parliament. The members of the 1964 parliament were mostly unknown personalities. at seeing these small landholders. Most of the new members of this parliament used public transportation to come to the opening session as they did not have private cars. The three parliaments in which I sat witnessed changes in the political life of the country that were reflected in the performance of each of these parliaments. as the appointed mayor does it all.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 139 in any kind of dialogue or have any say in who will represent them at any level from the time of birth until the time of death. At the level of the town or the village there is no participation of the populace in any sort of management of their affairs. In the school the students are not permitted to have any representation or to carry out any discussion or to disagree with their teachers. They benefited from the new rules that barred many of the traditional leaders from entering the elections. Only a few members of this class were able to make it into this new parliament. It is thus difficult to imagine in an authoritative society such as the one prevailing in Egypt today. None of these new members owed anybody anything for their success in the election. As children they are not allowed to participate in any way in the affairs of the home. The traditional leaders and the members of the old families who used to occupy the seats of the previous parliaments had virtually disappeared from the scene. elementary school teachers. These looked with scorn on the new members.

When this parliament came to an end. I was excluded from presiding over any of the parlia- 140 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . many of the members were able to improve their lot by making use of little favors that were offered to them. as became the norm in later parliaments. The salary of a member of parliament during this decade was a measly thirty pounds a month. The member did not get any other remuneration for attending committees or parliamentary sessions. almost puritanical in comparison with what Egypt witnessed in the following decades. and do everything they could to pass the laws that the government wanted to pass. It let the election battle take its course without any interference. This respect was mixed with a certain amount of wariness and guardedness on the part of the parliamentary leadership. Most members were of limited income. this made them sensitive to the problems of the common man whose needs were the preoccupation of the government at that time. During the time of this parliament the members regarded me with respect. who saw to it that I did not occupy any leading position in the parliament. when they did occur. even if this entailed bullying or intimidation. others had the favor of obtaining a small loan from parliament with the tacit understanding that it need not be paid back. By the end of this term of parliament the political leadership had found a cadre of supporters who were willing to fight for its cause. It waited to see the performance of the elected members before selecting its core of supporters. were allegedly limited to those government agencies that were working in secrecy and without any control. as a scholar and a professor in the university who had the confidence of President Nasser. which. I must confess that these little privileges were the most that a member of parliament could get during the 1960s. some were able to acquire a franchise of a government-owned business in their home town. it considered them all as allies. justify its actions.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 140 had no preference for one candidate over the other. or to obtain for a small rent one of Cairo’s luxury apartments that the government had sequestered after their foreign owners’ exodus during the 1956 Suez war. Many owned a car through easy credit. and it was taxable. During that decade there was accountability and many controls that prevented large-scale thefts.

These decisions and laws were passed in a matter of minutes. They agreed to dismiss from parliament eighteen prominent members. when I was elected head of the foreign relations committee under conditions that I will relate later. the members were ready to pass any measure that would empower the government to get over that defeat.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 141 mentary committees until 1971. the new president entered into a fight with ‘Ali Sabri and his team of the old guard. Emotions were high and genuine. the members were expressing the mood of the people. We hastily passed an emergency law. The decision took less than five minutes. The members were prodded by a group of opportunistic members who were looking forward to taking over the new administration. Most of the session was spent in speeches declaring the refusal of the nation’s defeat. This parliament witnessed the death of President Nasser and the accession of Anwar Sadat to the presidency. The members were summoned to a meeting to pass legislation that was deemed necessary to meet the serious situation that the defeat of the Egyptian army had left on the ground. agreed to have the army and security allocations listed under one figure in the state’s budget. whose leadership had now been passed to the old guard of the revolution under the leadership of ‘Ali Sabri. and delegated authority to the president of the republic to buy armaments and other military equipment without having to go back to parliament. The parliament of 1969 came with a new group of members. During the term of the 1964 parliament the 1967 Arab-Israeli war occurred. despite MY YEARS IN PARLIAMENT | 141 . who were carefully selected from among the tested members of the 1964 parliament by the political organization. They all expressed their satisfaction that President Nasser had listened to the voice of the people and had decided to withdraw his resignation and stay in office to lead the nation in its battle to overcome that setback. Soon after his accession. including the speaker and the two vice-speakers. The members sided with the president despite the fact that most of them owed their positions to the old guard. which the members described as a mere setback that the country would soon overcome. who had taken to the streets asking the president to stay in office after they had heard his speech on television admitting responsibility for the defeat and offering his resignation.

until the outbreak of the 1973 war. We had been able to isolate Israel diplomatically.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 142 the fact that it represented an exceedingly serious precedent. That parliament was soon dissolved. The 1971 parliament was made up mostly of the members of the 1969 parliament who had sided with the new president in his battle with the old guard. During these years the preparation for the war generated an atmosphere of urgency. A new economic policy. One of the great achievements of that time was our success in convincing all African countries to sever their relations with Israel. The campaign succeeded and we won the world’s public opinion. 142 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . and was content with the foreign aid monies that flowed into the coffers of Egypt as a result of the war and with the work opportunities for Egyptians in foreign and Arab countries that the war had opened up. As soon as the 1973 October War ended there was a marked change in the bearings of the political leadership. I was also appointed to that parliament. this parliament took its work seriously. Egypt’s so-called Open Door (al-infitah al-iqtisadi). As soon as I became the president of that committee I worked closely with the ministry of foreign affairs to carry out a campaign to get the support of as many governments as possible for the implementation of the United Nations resolutions calling for the withdrawal of Israel from the territories it had occupied during the 1967 war. This urgency brought to the fore a situation that induced the leadership of parliament to recommend my candidacy to the presidency of the foreign relations committee. a phenomenon that is hard to believe for anyone who did not live this episode of the history of Egypt. For the first two years of its life. It stopped mobilizing the nation’s potential. something he thought he could achieve by peaceful means. This remarkable achievement stands as testimony to the weight of Egypt and the Arab world at that time. It remained unable to exchange diplomatic representation with any country outside the United States and Western Europe. there was a feeling that more attention ought to be given to the field of foreign relations on which the new president had pinned great hopes in his efforts to end the occupation of Sinai. It wanted to make this war the last of all wars and hoped to enjoy the fruits of what it thought it had achieved by that war.

or extending a power line to any area of Egypt was the absolute prerogative of the executive power. that members would swarm around the ministers with their petitions as soon MY YEARS IN PARLIAMENT | 143 . I was always reminded of these limits by the hurried and forceful ways in which legislation was passed both in the committees and in the general sessions. No wonder. the raising of the ceiling of personal incomes. Other members also knew their limits. the easing of business and corporate profit taxes. the authorization of foreign or private capital to invest in any sector of the Egyptian economy. Many made fortunes by trading in currency or in drugs and contraband materials. Many members of parliament who were closely associated with the president were allowed to benefit from these opportunities. as it had become almost totally uncontrolled. Others made them by selling scraped topsoil from agricultural land. the reactivation of the stock and commodity exchange. nor does it have any control over budgetary allocations as is the case in most other democracies. I realized from day one of my membership of parliament that there were limits to my power and influence. Many members became exceedingly rich. This total change in the course of the Egyptian economy offered opportunities for corrupt practices. while many made them by representing the foreign companies that opened up shop in Egypt to trade in products that were to replace locally made products. and there was no place for any serious talk in this parliament. improving the condition of a road. Building a school. and the permitting of foreign banks to open branches in Egypt. parliament had (and still has) no power over any of these domains. the opening of foreign trade to the private sector. and also by the secretive and non-transparent ways in which information was guarded. They directed their efforts toward solving the problems of the members of their constituencies. In addition many members worked toward the improvement of the infrastructure of the areas they represented. therefore. I felt alienated and I lost interest in its affairs so much so that I stopped attending its regular sessions. presenting their petitions to cabinet ministers and acting as intermediaries between the constituents and the government. It involved among other things the floating of the Egyptian pound.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 143 was launched in the wake of the 1973 war.

Because of the novelty of this proposal. which I hoped would get some attention. and would not serve Egypt’s image. which I thought was quite inconsiderate. I tried once to present legislation that could help solve the pressing population problem. This field was the only one open before me in which I was able to find a degree of maneuverability. I heard a leading member suggesting that the government should exert a greater effort to regulate the numbers of Egyptians. 1970. I was spared the task of presenting petitions or working toward solving local problems and I found a place for myself in the field of foreign relations. I thought that it would be better if I were to introduce it to the public first. This sum would stop should the family have a third child. since I had no district to represent. In my case. I was given the chance to present the proposed legislation to the permanent committee of parliament. which stipulated the granting to every Egyptian family in which the wife had reached the age of thirty years and which had two children or less a monthly sum of three Egyptian pounds (which would be the equivalent of 200 pounds by 2001 prices). I wrote a long article explaining its main features in the leading newspaper al-Ahram. The door was slammed shut for any dealing with the national problems that plagued Egypt and affected its future. even if it had to use unconventional methods such as sterilizing men or withholding services to newly born children beyond a certain number. The members listened with great attention to the proposal. I was greatly perturbed by this member’s diatribe. I wanted to help change this image by proposing legislation that would reduce the galloping rates of population increase by a more humane method. which sounded practical and workable in 144 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . inhumane.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 144 as they had entered the parliamentary hall and before even taking their seats. The sight of members crammed around the ministers with their petitions stands testimony to the poor clout of the legislative branch of government vis-à-vis its executive branch. especially after the issue was discussed in parliament. My proposal was to use material incentive to reward families that control their numbers. which appeared on December 24. A few weeks later I made a formal request to the speaker of parliament to present my proposed legislation. During that discussion.

for. At that time they did not have the philosophical background that would enable them to raise a credible argument in this regard. These members had two languages. one with which they lived and one with which they spoke to foreign organizations. argued against the proposal despite the fact that they would on other occasions speak differently. such as the one member who had to deal with international donor organizations. Foremost among these was the issue of the freeing of the world of all forms of colonialism. and where procreation was important to compensate for childrens’ deaths.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 145 checking the rates of growth of the population. They did not contribute to the discussion. That background came in later years with the flood of books and tapes that inundated Egypt in the 1970s with the influx of oil money from the neighboring Arab countries. The Interparliamentary Union In the field of foreign relations I found a venue to use my talents and compensate for my inability to do much in the field of internal politics. Those who had had the traditional education of religious schools voted against it because it was against what they were brought up to believe in. It adopted and fought for many issues. including that member who had harangued parliament a few days before advocating the use of inhumane methods to reduce the rates of growth of the population. They were the product of a more primitive society. where numbers were the basis of the power and status of the clan. During the 1960s and 1970s. which were common. despite all the lip service to the contrary. Egypt was quite active in the international arena. All the members of the committee voted against the proposal. Once they recognized its workability and that it might succeed in curbing the numbers. they all stood against it. the principle of family planning itself was totally unacceptable to the people at large. and the THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION | 145 . The few members of the committee who had a better education and who occupied important jobs. At that moment I realized that the time had not come yet for the presentation of any serious proposal to tackle the problem.

Switzerland. During these years I attended every meeting of the council or the general conference of the union. France. an international association of parliamentarians that has formed an important platform since the end of World War II. It played a minor role in the life of the union at that time because its parliaments were short lived and were frequently dissolved by royal decrees. In the fall of 1973 the venue of the general conference of the union was changed from Santiago. These were troubled times. and many countries turned away from it and reverted to the totalitarian systems of fascism and communism. 146 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . and Switzerland continued to be its main champions. the union had remained since its foundation in 1881 and until the 1960s a private club for the members of Europe’s parliaments. It was a bloody coup that ended in the assassination of Salvador Allende. Chile to the headquarters of the union in Geneva. the parliamentary system itself suffered a great setback throughout the world. in protest of the military coup that had taken place in Chile before the convening of the conference. representing Egypt in its council from 1964 until 1976. Historically. During that period the non-industrialized countries used the union as a platform to voice their hopes and to mobilize public opinion for their cases. Much of my activity in the field of foreign relations was done through the Interparliamentary Union. Between the two world wars. The period I spent in the union was among the most active in its life.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 146 right of all countries to independence and self-determination. only Great Britain. I consider these years among the most fruitful in my life. which were held in the parliaments of the different countries that hosted them. The coup was planned by the American CIA and executed by the Chilean military under the leadership of Augusto Pinochet. It also concerned itself with the problem of Palestine. the sole continent that knew the parliamentary system at that time. Egypt joined the union when it became a parliamentary monarchy in the wake of the ratification of the 1923 constitution. I spent some twelve years of my life in the corridors of this union. which saw the retreat of the number of countries following the parliamentary system. the democratically elected president of Chile.

did insist that the newly admitted councils must have among their responsibilities the process of legislation and the ratification of the national budget. as is clear from a glance at the list of membership of the union. however. being a member of a large coalition of third world countries. The union. For some time it remained fundamentally a European organization.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 147 Immediately after the end of World War II the Interparliamentary Union started to play a much more active role with the return of the system of parliamentary democracy to most European countries. This coalition formed an influential block that enhanced the position of the third world countries and enabled them to have a role and a voice in the world’s affairs. It is obvious that these preconditions were dropped after that date. THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION | 147 . socialist countries. and that their members must be elected by popular vote. whose speeches attracted greater attention and were highly attended and listened to. The decision meant that the union had abandoned from among its preconditions of admittance the multiparty shape of the council. The prime question that occupied Egypt when I represented it at the union was the question of Palestine. That war caused Egypt and the Arabs to recognize the unfruitfulness of the flowery and passionate language they had so far been using to deal with the problem and to change it to a new language of a more rational tone that was based on facts and figures. These preconditions continued to be applied to all new applicants until my exit from the union in 1976. which today includes about fifteen Arab parliaments! The expansion of the union made it more universal in character and brought new ideas that enlivened its discussions and broadened its interests. and did not get its universal character until it decided to incorporate in its membership the legislative councils of countries that differed from the traditional councils of the western democracies. With this decision the councils of the Soviet Union. the east European socialist block countries. which assumed a central place in Egypt’s concerns after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. That new approach garnered respect from the world community and gave credibility to the Egyptian and Arab delegations. and members of the left wing parties of the western democracies. and some third world countries were admitted to the union. At that time Egypt found support for its views.

whom I remember sitting next to the late Hafez Badawi. the speaker of the house at the time. The transportation of the parliamentary delegation to that conference took place on a private plane that the authorities had secured for its sole use. Chile. a magnificent partner who contributed greatly to the advancement of the work of the union. The following year’s fall conference. Laila Takla. 1982 issue). He described my role in the Interparliamentary Union as that of “the adviser and the leader who mastered the English language and who defended the policies of Egypt with courage. when he joined the executive branch of Egypt’s government to become first governor of Giza province and then. which was to be held in Santiago. I will deal with this order of detention and the circumstances that led to it in chapter six. The late Dr. His impression must have been so great that he mentioned it some ten years later. The only surviving people to have witnessed the events of this conference are Kamal al-Shazli and Dr. A full report about the deliberations of that con- 148 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . The meeting convened a few days after the end of the 1973 October war.” Dr. Gamal al-‘Utayfi. when I ad-libbed an intervention after a draft resolution about the Middle East had come under attack. He seems to have been impressed by my performance in the drafting committee and in the plenary session of that conference. He was replaced by the late Dr. the delegation consisted of Dr. In addition to myself. ‘Utayfi and the members of parliament Zakariya Gomaa and Mahmud Abu Wafya. when Cairo airport was still closed to civil aviation. ‘Utayfi. was replaced by a meeting of the council at the union’s headquarters in Geneva. when he came to write an article in my defense in al-Mussawar magazine (July 23. The 1972 fall conference of the union was held in Rome and was the first conference to be attended by Dr. ‘Utayfi wrote this article in my defense after the appearance of my name in the notorious list of 1981 that spelled out my detention. from 1979 until his untimely death in 1982. prime minister. In this conference I was elected a member of the executive committee of the union by a large majority.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 148 I occupied one of the two seats assigned to Egypt in the interparliamentary council. Fuad Muhi al-Din occupied the other seat from 1964 until 1972. translating to him what I ad-libbed in the session.

That proposal was met with greatest resistance from the majority of the parliamentarians of the western democracies. If we were to succeed in having that organization achieve observer status in the union. I have no knowledge of the nature of the report that Mr. after all the years of talking about the problem of Palestine. can be found in the minutes of the Egyptian parliamentary session of November 11. to do something more tangible to break the silence Israel had imposed and to let the Palestinians have a forum through which their representatives could get the international recognition that had been denied to them and from which they could put forward their cause.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 149 ference. All that I know is that after it my relationship with the president suffered. by virtue of his limited knowledge of the languages being used in them and his inexperience in the union. Despite the importance of that meeting and the favorable resolutions it had come to. The Egyptian delegation. which was meeting in Colombo. ‘Utayfi and myself in the union’s council. however. In the spring of 1975 I saw that the time might be ripe. The minutes include also a translation of the two interventions of Dr. I therefore decided to slate a proposal on the agenda of the council of the union. it might be possible to proceed from there and ask other international bodies to do the same. which was almost wholly devoted to the Middle East problem. Sri Lanka. the president of the republic did not meet the delegation upon its return and was satisfied to know its news from his brother-inlaw Mahmud Abu Wafya. who was known to be his eyes in parliament. Abu Wafya was the least knowledgeable about what had transpired in its meetings. Abu Wafya relayed to the president about the meeting. This was a surprising move. to grant the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) observer status in the union. argued that the by-laws of the union allowed the slating of new THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION | 149 . The idea was floated that the Interparliamentary Union might be a good starting point to test the degree of readiness of the international community to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. for of all the council’s members Mr. 1973. who stood steadfastly against the slating of the proposal on the agenda.

as he was preparing to make a deal with Israel. especially among many western parliaments. The crisis cooled down by the fall. The delegations of those countries are made up of representatives of various parties. such as has happened in many subsequent elections of international organizations. including those of the Interparliamentary Union itself. however. By that time I had become a wellknown figure in the union. but as we later found out he wanted to extricate himself from all Arab problems and issues. The largest majority of delegates accepted that argument and voted to accept the PLO as an observer member. It is true that elections for international posts have always been politically motivated but they were until the decade of the 1990s clean. They were fair and clean. the voting of the different countries. which. The decision caused a lot of stir.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 150 subjects under the item of “other business” that appeared on the council’s agenda. which was held in London. and it was not uncommon for some of the delegates belonging 150 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . The only other candidate for the post was John Williams. is not necessarily uniform. In the case of the Interparliamentary Union. especially those whose parliaments have a multiparty character. when we were able to greet the representative of the PLO the late Khaled al-Hasan in the halls of the conference. I was personally surprised that this achievement did not get the attention of President Sadat. some of whom threatened to withdraw from the union. This achievement was. It did not occur to anyone to use foul methods such as bribes or discrimination on the basis of religion to influence the results. The admittance of the organization to the union opened up the door for its admittance into other international organizations. The elections were based solely on the candidate’s merits and activities. was the most important attribute to qualify one to run for the presidency of the union. British member of parliament and a colleague in the executive committee. by the standards of the time. In appreciation of the initiative Egypt had taken in this case many delegates asked me to stand as a candidate for the presidency of the union in the elections that were to take place in the fall of 1976. greatly appreciated by the many delegates who sympathized with the Palestinian cause.

Despite my feeling that this support was lukewarm at best. Egypt’s secret dealings with the United States and Israel. without consulting the other Arab countries. This resulted in the dissolution of the bloc that supported my candidacy for the presidency of the union. When I entered these elections I found that I had enough support to proceed with my campaign even though I was unsure of the degree of support that the leadership of the Egyptian parliament was willing to give. as well as those of the many countries that sympathized with the Palestinian cause. full of slogans and buzzwords of the day. That generosity becomes more obvious in the case of the poorer countries of the world. cost Egypt the support of the Arabs and the sympathy of many third world countries that had been so far sympathetic to its cause. The disclosure angered the Soviet Union and the socialist countries. However this count ran afoul as a result of the events of the year that followed the fall of 1975. and do not attract the attention of the members any more. independently of all international and regional organizations. The meetings have become routine. the count of votes that I was sure to get was in my favor. The year 1976 was also a watershed year in the life of the union. My chances of winning the election were further reduced when the Soviet Union decided to support another third-world candidate for the post who somewhat belatedly entered the race. This represented the last of my dealings with the Interparliamentary Union. It marked its reversion to a private club. These represented a majority of votes by a big margin.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 151 to left-leaning parties to vote with Egypt and adopt the problems of the third world countries and that of Palestine. The real problems that occupy the people of the world have disappeared from agenda of the union’s meetings. where the members of parliament could meet and spend their vacations as guests of the various parliaments of the world. During that year the relations of Egypt with the rest of the world underwent a dramatic change as a result of the disclosure of the secret dealings that President Sadat had undertaken. I was guaranteed the votes of the third world countries. to reach a settlement of the Israeli occupation of Sinai. THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION | 151 . which are usually generous with their guests. Votes were split and I lost the election.

including some key cabinet ministers and a representative of the security apparatus. The political leadership pinned great hopes on the ASU to mobilize the nation behind the revolution. who had an overwhelming presence despite the fact that he spoke little and ran the meetings in a democratic way. Anwar Sadat. It was this composition of the secretariat that made its work prone to 152 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . giving all the chance to express their views. The secretariat included all the luminaries of the regime. and the farmers’ associations. all of whom had different ideologies and goals. This was the closest I ever came to being near the centers of power. He was a good listener. the political organization that was established in the wake of the proclamation of the 1962 charter. It also wanted the secretariat to build a vanguard organization of selected leaders to guide that union of national forces. The meetings were held in the Heliopolis Hotel. this allowed me to see and work with him closely. especially those that had benefited from the reforms that the revolution had introduced. the nationalist entrepreneurs. which had been converted to become part of the office of the president. In this gathering I was the lowest in protocol ranking and thus I was seated at the very end of the conference table. the professional syndicates. the secretariat included about twenty other members representing different political trends or sectors of such popular forces as the trade unions. President Nasser used to attend the weekly meetings of the secretariat regularly.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 152 The General Secretariat of the Arab Socialist Union In 1964 I was appointed a member of the general secretariat of the Arab Socialist Union (ASU). In addition. Husayn al-Shaf‘i. The meetings were chaired by President Nasser. a member of the revolutionary council. It wanted the ASU to rally under its banner all national forces. was appointed as its general secretary. capable of making the necessary compromises to keep the unity of the alliance he was trying to forge from the varied groups that were represented in the secretariat. and ‘Ali Sabri also attended the meetings. Zakariya Muhi al-Din. All the members of the revolutionary council including Major-General ‘Amer.

I could not find an explanation for this reverence for the man except that the poor and those without a say in the world’s affairs identified themselves with him. Anyone reading the minutes of the meetings of the secretariat. During my travels I had a chance to see how much the ordinary man revered him. which were published in full in book form by the government printing office of the ministry of culture in 1997. They wondered THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE ARAB SOCIALIST UNION | 153 . handsome. Nasser was tall. Nasser always took the side of the poor and the downtrodden on every issue that I had the chance to see him take a decision. I personally suffered from this atmosphere and was denied membership of the vanguard organization that the secretariat was supposed to have been formed to establish. This must have been one of the reasons that he was mourned all over the world when he died in 1970. clearly senses this atmosphere of intrigue. Sri Lanka. someone who had taken a stand against mighty powers and other oppressors. the cutlery was ordinary and the menu was a three-course meal such as any middle class family could occasionally afford. He led a very simple life. During the first meeting of the secretariat I was engaged with President Nasser in a heated discussion on the importance and necessity of going back to the democratic system of government. The discussion caused a stir among the members of the secretariat. Six months after his death I was attending a meeting in Colombo. and had great presence. who were not accustomed to that type of dialogue with the president. Whether Nasser succeeded in doing something to alleviate their hardships or not is a matter of debate. All the dinners that I was invited to were extremely simple. All one can say is that he tried. where I found Nasser’s photograph hanging in the shops and in the taxi that carried me to my hotel in Beirut. He was perceived as their champion. where I found Nasser’s photograph hanging in the hotel shop where I went to buy my morning paper. The man who was running the shop insisted on giving me the newspaper free when he knew that I came from the land of Nasser.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 153 intrigue. As a member of the secretariat of the party I was frequently invited to the dinners he gave to the dignitaries that visited Egypt. On my way back home I stopped in Madras and Beirut.

one of the publications of al-Ahram newspaper edited by Lutfi al-Khuli. many members attacked me viciously for meeting with university professors without the prior knowledge of the minister of higher education. even though I hardly knew the man at that time. Haykal was the object of the wrath of many politicians. This was done to counter my presence and to prove to the president that I was not the only professor who had vision and knowledge. He apparently liked these articles which he published in a prominent place. The rest of the members of the secretariat eyed me with envy. drawing my confidence to talk freely to the president from his support. I do not remember having discussed anything with him that could touch on the affairs of the secretariat or the union. The publication of the minutes assured them that I must be one of Haykal’s men. The general secretary of the Arab Socialist Union managed to issue a presidential decree that added to the secretariat another university professor within two months of its formation. The attack was so vicious that it prompted President Nasser to interfere and come to my rescue. which I used to send by courier.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 154 who the newcomer who talked with such confidence to the president could be and what kind of support he had. Sayyid Marei. That envy turned into hatred when the full minutes of the first meeting were published in al-Tali‘a magazine. During the third meeting of the secretariat. My presumed association with Haykal brought upon me the wrath of those who hated him. Mr. that this must be part of a conspiracy designed by none other than Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal. Save for one or two casual meetings with him. a long-time minister of agriculture who represented the sector of nationalist entrepreneurs in the secretariat. The publication of the minutes of that meeting confirmed the members’ suspicions. I was thus counted as one of Haykal’s cronies. with the aim of introducing new faces that would eventually replace them. 154 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . came to me at the end of the meeting and advised me to calm down and take matters easily. who envied his intimate relationship with and direct access to President Nasser. the editor of al-Ahram newspaper. My association with Haykal until that time had been through my writings in al-Ahram newspaper.

I took over the duties of that job. An office was especially set up for me in the magnificent former royal palace at ‘Abdin. The revolutionary leaders only wanted to deactivate them and to keep them under their control. which occupied one of the stylish turn-of-the-century palaces in the prestigious Cairo district of Garden City. the majority of the leaders of the revolution were distrustful of the intellectuals and did not care to be engaged in a dialogue with them. This they decided could best be achieved by setting up a clandestine organization of some of their operatives in the universities. Despite the fact that the secretary-general of the union never translated this demand into an executive order. it had not yet started to be frequented by the members of parliament and it acted almost as a private meeting place. I took my work in the universities’ bureau seriously. where intellectuals could get a chance to discuss the problems of their country and where they could establish contact with the decision makers. Engaging in a dialogue with the professors was never part of the agenda of this clandestine group. the minister of higher education. and I started to build extensive contacts with many university professors with whom I used to meet in the elegant building of the parliament club. On the one hand. THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE ARAB SOCIALIST UNION | 155 . the attack continued relentlessly and increased in intensity when it was rumored that I was being considered for the post of minister of higher education in the next cabinet reshuffle. The rumor brought upon me the wrath of Dr. a man who was well connected and capable of turning the tables on his adversaries. On the other hand. This hope did not materialize.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 155 Nevertheless. At the time I was using it for these meetings. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Sayyid. The meetings offered me the opportunity to get to know a large number of professors whom I hoped to assemble in an association that would act as a think tank. which would report to them the goings-on and any potential movements of protest. the university professors were suspicious of the revolution’s intentions and they did not want to be involved with its associates. which became the headquarters of the union. The rumor circulated after President Nasser asked me during the second meeting of the secretariat to be responsible for the universities’ bureau of the union.

I was never informed about it. which had become a hot subject in the 1960s when the number of students seeking higher education increased dramatically. I began the article by reminding the readers that the increase in the number of students pressing to join the universities was a healthy sign. The aim of that institution would be confined to graduating a well-rounded citizen who would be capable of working. in the variety of jobs that the new economy was providing. namely conducting scientific research and carrying out 156 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . It was one of many secret organizations that MajorGeneral ‘Amer and his notorious security apparatus were building to penetrate and spy on the parallel government agencies.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 156 Despite the fact that this parallel organization was built while I was responsible for the universities’ bureau in the union. Among the adaptations that I suggested was to convert the university of the masses into a teaching institution of liberal education. It was a trend that was almost impossible to reverse and any talk about reducing the number of students clamoring for a higher education was futile. I started the dialogue by publishing a long article in al-Ahram newspaper on January 17. The other function of the university. and encourage the free exchange of ideas about these problems. I then went on to say that all we could do to cope with the new university of large numbers was to learn to live with it and to adapt our ways to this new situation. It was against the trend of democratizing higher education that was sweeping the world at that time. 1965. As a starter I chose the problem of university education. after a short period of on-the-job training. I do not know whether President Nasser or the general secretary of the union were informed about this clandestine organization. From among its members were recruited future speakers of parliament and many cabinet ministers. All I know is that its members were destined to occupy the most important posts in the country. In contrast. the organization that I was attempting to build was totally different in its goals. causing many problems ranging from a shortage of qualified staff to a lowering of the standards of the quality of education. indicating a vibrant and aspiring nation. Its aim was to benefit from the expertise of the professors to help solve the problems that were facing the country.

and incon- THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE ARAB SOCIALIST UNION | 157 . About fifty professors sent their comments on the article to al-Ahram newspaper. These would be staffed by a select group of competent professors and would have a small student body selected from among the best graduates of the universities of the masses. engineering. That involvement caused me the greatest discomfort and forced me to use sedatives. poor construction. These were written by agents who were mobilized from among the employees of my office in the geological survey or from the members of parliament who were attached to the parliamentary delegations that I attended. Major-General ‘Amer. which I suggested would be established as independent institutions. and the humanities.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 157 in-depth studies. Had I had these copies I would not have hesitated to publish them for all to see their mediocrity. to relieve my anxiety. The members of that organization increased their attendance at our meetings to eavesdrop on our deliberations and to report them to the fearful security apparatus. with a view to preparing them to practice the professions of medicine and law and to carry out the research and development programs that were vital to the growth of the economy and to the welfare of the nation. The response to my article was overwhelming. I summarized the different opinions that were expressed in these comments in a concluding article that was published in al-Ahram on March 6. which they were able to involve in their fight. 1965. who was at that time engaged in a secret battle with the sponsor of the organization. The aim of these faculties would be to conduct scientific research and to train students in the specialized fields of science. for the first time in my life. In two unusual and unique occasions I was given the chance to read some of these reports. which thought that our group might be able to pull the carpet from under its feet and get the attention of the nation and the president of the republic. During that time I was under the surveillance of the security apparatus and was the subject of reports that recorded my movements and activities. was to be relegated to the faculties of postgraduate studies. where they were published. Unfortunately I did not copy any of them. the minister of defense. The success of the campaign and the great response it elicited alarmed the clandestine parallel organization.

Less than one year after my appointment I lost my membership when the secretariat was reorganized. I do not know the reason behind the insistence of the apparatus to depict me in this manner. my name was not included in the list of new members. took that characterization as given and then manipulated the events and incidents to fit that characterization. which are drilled in them from childhood and which form part of the traditional culture that most Egyptians live by. I was not told about it or about the reasons for which the decision to get rid of me was taken. still followed to this day.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 158 sistency. and used preconceived judgments that were not based on the facts of the case. It could have been that they could not find anything incriminating in my record such as corrupt practices or shady relationships. This marriage was not accepted by my family. I took the matter calmly. This may have been taken as an indication that I belonged to a fanatic family that did not accept the religion of Islam. The decision to delete my name came suddenly. whose incidents happened more than fifty years ago and 158 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . Every report that was written about me by the security apparatus. causing a rift between my family and my brother. may explain the repeated reappearances of politicians. pictured me as a fanatic Copt who had to be treated with guardedness. which tried and failed to prevent its consummation. whom I have never met. The fact that all the reports agreed in depicting me thus leads me to believe that their writers. In so doing I broke a tradition. only to reoccupy influential posts in the government or in the party. The extensive efforts of the security agencies succeeded in uprooting me from the secretariat of the ASU. namely to go to the would-be powers to affirm my loyalty and to beg for forgiveness. who disappear from the scene for periods that may vary in length. and I did not even care to ask about the reason for removing me from the secretariat. It is also possible that the writers of these reports were motivated by their suspicions of the religious other. They were subjective. without a single exception. I do not want to dwell on the details of this episode. To them these suspicions may have been confirmed when they discovered that I had a younger brother who had married a Muslim woman and had changed his faith to Islam in 1949. This tradition. so they reverted to this easy way to slander my name.

That atmosphere became intolerable in the latter half of the 1960s and was responsible. I can vouch that they were not written with any care. with whom I had had a special relationship. I am sure that I was one of many who were the subjects of these reports. This happened despite the fact that I did not witness the events of the affair. that he had severed all relationship with his past and that he would not attend the funeral. who had omitted his name. without even allowing me in. When I suggested adding his name everyone in the family assured me that he would not welcome it. When I went to him that night to ask him to attend our mother’s funeral he told me bluntly and on the steps of his apartment. which took place while I was abroad pursuing my studies. I do not want to burden the reader with the content of the reports that were written to malign my name or with the accusations and allegations that were leveled against me. It portrayed me in a manner that caused me a lot of pain and impeded my opportunities for advancement. When I returned to Egypt two years after these events I tried without avail to renew my contact with my brother. I went to him to beg him to be present at her funeral. In the single visit I made to his house. for I wanted to put his name in the obituary that my family. The reason I am going against this decision and speaking about it in this memoir is that this affair was mentioned in my security file and had consequences that affected my life and career. they were not intended to be read critically but were written to inform the concerned THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE ARAB SOCIALIST UNION | 159 . I have always considered this affair a very private matter that I have kept to myself and decided never to talk about. when my mother was on her deathbed. Reading through the reports that were written about me and that I had the chance to see. That was my last encounter with him. I respected his decision and never contacted him again except once.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 159 whose actors have died and disappeared from the scene. he bluntly informed me that he had decided to cut off all relationship with his past and begin a new life. for the setbacks that befell Egypt at that time. was preparing to be published in the newspapers. which had the negative effect of infusing a tense atmosphere in the workplace. I did not hear of him after that until the day I read the announcement of his death in al-Ahram newspaper in 1986 while I was in Berlin. to a large degree.

the central office of government personnel. that the mining organization. The reports were sent to the relevant cabinet minister for information only. They were invariably based on rumors or unauthenticated incidents. leaving the Coptic graduates to be assigned to the less lucrative jobs of the mining industry. The reports were poorly composed.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 160 authorities of the verdict passed by the security apparatus on the subject of the report. badly constructed. and lacking in logic. such as the accusation that I favored the appointment of Copts in the mining organization that I headed and that I promoted them even if they were not qualified. had an exceptionally large number of Coptic employees. which in many instances were made up or twisted to fit the accusation. The creation of a central office in the 1960s to arrange for the employment of all the college and higher institute graduates in the different gov- 160 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . which was created to allocate the graduates of the different colleges and technical institutes to job openings in the various government departments and public sector organizations. no one was to blame for that but that government office. If the allegation mentioned in the reports about me was true. Since most ministers had no time to read these reports with any care. over which I presided. They carried no indictment that needed any action or further investigation. It picked the Muslim graduates to give them the better and higher-paid jobs of the petroleum industry. developing a guarded if not hostile relationship to the person mentioned in the report. they usually accepted their conclusions. That power was vested in an outside office. This had the effect of creating an atmosphere of suspicion between the minister and the senior members of his staff. The graduates of the colleges and institutes of the earth sciences were allocated to work in the petroleum organization or the mining organization and in the companies that were under their authority. This accusation was repeatedly mentioned. their conclusions had no relationship to the events of the case. even though I did not have the power to appoint anyone in the organization. I mentioned earlier that the primary concern of the writers of the reports was to find evidence to prove my fanaticism. Much of the evidence that was taken against me was not of my making.

I mentioned in an earlier part of these memoirs that I had the rare opportunity on two occasions to read some of the security reports that were written about me. THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE ARAB SOCIALIST UNION | 161 . It was totally different from what they used to say to me in person. with whom he had always sided. was the idea of President Nasser himself. climb up the social ladder. He wanted to eliminate any other basis that could be used to discriminate against the weak. which they used to advance their interests. he ordered that these promotions be decided solely on the basis of seniority up to the level of general manager. In this regard President Nasser was a rare example of a leader who was conscious of the problems of ordinary people. basing them solely on the grades of the public examination of the secondary school certificate. I have already alluded to one of these occasions in the previous chapter when Minister ‘Ali Wali forwarded the reports to me. without resorting to advertisements or oral examinations or any other ploy that could be used to discriminate against an individual or a group. The other occasion was when President Sadat ordered the release of another batch of these reports for my information in 1971. He must have thought of this idea in response to the flood of complaints that he received every day about the discriminatory practices exercised in the different government departments and public sector organizations. This order benefited the Copts as well as those of their Muslim compatriots who did not have the backing of an influential person. Many of these members were simple informants who had mastered the art of flattery. I was amazed to find out that they were based on sayings that I was supposed to have uttered in the presence of members of parliament who happened to accompany the different parliamentary delegations of which I was always a member. when they showered me with their praise. and become among the luminaries of the world of politics. I was amazed to read what these members had reported to the security apparatus about me.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 161 ernment departments and public sector organizations. As many of these complaints concerned the favoritism practiced with regard to the promotion of employees. In a similar vein President Nasser stood firm with regard to the rules that governed the admission of students to university.

who formed a closed and secretive association with a restricted membership. In practice. and former prime minister.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 162 In the preceding few paragraphs I have expounded on the enormous effort that was exerted by the security apparatus to slander my name and to find incriminating evidence that could be used to justify chasing me out of public life. To this subject I will devote the following paragraphs. the Arab Socialist Union. of an alliance of the working forces of the nation. the new secretary general of the party. This mode of thinking assumed greater importance and influence when its adherents were given the responsibility of running the education and the information ministries. however. The ideologies of most if not all these groups were extremely vague. As a result of the restructuring of the political organization in the wake of the 1967 war. the league opened up to other groups and forged alliances with them for the sole purpose of making use of them to further its cause. The group became the strongest and the most visible in the alliance by virtue of its close relationship to the centers of power. The group was led by ‘Ali Sabri. On occasions. it consisted of several feuding groups that had nothing in common. as well as the affairs of the sole political organization in the country. This effort cannot be explained until the nature of the establishment that dominated the political scene in Egypt in the 1960s and the 1970s is understood. The group formed a league whose core was made up of the members of the old guard. at least in theory. The Political Establishment The political establishment of Egypt during the 1960s and 1970s was composed. These alliances were never elevated to the 162 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . arising mostly from the traditionalist and deeply rooted thinking that had the endorsement and support of the revolution since its early days. member of the revolutionary council. however. the composition and role of the party changed with the rise and prominence of the politically oriented group known as the patriotic left.

Most of them did not adhere to anything beyond the traditionalist way of thinking. Among the groups that were used by the league was the Marxist left. None of the members of the Marxist left was ever able to get full membership of the league. Their primary concern was to solve their daily problems and to take advantage of whatever opportunities their association with the political system provided. They were mere groupings of persons who were bound together by familial. It was basically a chauvinistic grouping with a hodgepodge of ideas that were derived from the various political theories of the day: fascism and the belief in the concept of the just dictator. Irrespective of the ideology that these groups may have had. I do not need to dwell here on the different ideologies of any of the groups that made up the alliance of the nation’s working forces. as they were competing to be the first and only group to get the attention of the president and of the men in power. The only group that may have had what may be called an ideology was the league of the patriotic left. On the contrary. as long as it preserved the traditionalist way of thinking and its values. tribal. the legislative council. Marxism and the acceptance of the principles of class struggle and more equitable distribution of wealth. Of all the groups that were involved in this morass. the league of the patriotic left was the most successful. Its achievements can be measured by its success in amassing in its hands all the instruments of power one year before the death of President Nasser. It controlled the media. with which the league worked closely for as long as it was necessary to develop a theoretical basis to justify the social programs that the regime was adopting at that time. and the secularist model of government. The intrigue that this competition generated created an atmosphere of mistrust among the groups. much to the chagrin of all the other groups.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 163 status of full partnership or even full trust. They usually rallied around an influential figure in the regime who acted as an intermediary between them and the government. THE POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT | 163 . or religious ties. and the security apparatus. the primary motive of their daily decisions was not ideological but was determined by practical considerations. they were treated with a guarded if not hostile attitude.

supervising the building of a new and more effective army. these groups take the form of political parties. This is a natural right and a legitimate way to express their concerns. and engaging in the diplomatic battle on the international front.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 164 It is not uncommon in any political system to have people congregate in groups. conducting the military operations that engaged the enemy in what became known as the war of attrition. It ran the party as a secret organization. the president stopped playing that role after the defeat of 1967. Nasser’s overwhelming popularity and political acumen made him the perfect person to heal the differences and affect reconciliation. The withdrawal of President Nasser from playing any role in the political organization resulted in the disappearance of the spirit of compromise and reconciliation that he had championed and the escalation of the role of confrontation. There is indeed good indication that the 164 | VENTURES IN POLITICS . In the countries that have a pluralistic system of government. This led to the dissolution of the alliance and the rise of the unchecked power of the league. The burden of the responsibilities consequent upon the defeat left no time for anything else but the preparation of the country for the impending battle to regain the land that had been lost to the Israelis during that war. which became the unchallenged leader of the political organization after the withdrawal of the president from its affairs. It is possible that this conspiratorial attitude was due to the old guard’s fear of the machinations against it of the other groups or of the foreign intelligence agencies that were known to have targeted Egypt at that time. however. During the years that followed the war and until the time of his death in 1970 President Nasser was fully involved in the problems that arose as a result of the defeat. Decisions were taken abruptly and at random and were based on information provided mostly by the shady characters employed by the notorious security apparatus. This latter role was carried out mercilessly by the league of the patriotic left. In the Egypt of the 1960s. In practice. Unfortunately. these groups were allowed to exist only if they were willing to accept to be united under the umbrella of the one political party. this unity did not take root except at the times when President Nasser himself was involved. however.

which encouraged many to endorse the candidacy of Mr. The effect of the confrontational policy of the league of the patriotic left was devastating. but it also created an atmosphere of fear and revulsion among many. I was among the first members of parliament who voted to recommend putting the name of Mr. Those among them who were members of parliament were stripped of their membership in a raucous session that passed its verdict with no regard to the law. THE POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT | 165 . A special court with exceptional powers was hurriedly established to carry out the trial of the members of the league. Sadat for public referendum for the presidency of the republic. It also shows the nature of the atmosphere that prevailed at the time. It not only helped dissolve the alliance. He gained even greater support when he purged the entire old guard in May 1971. Sadat for the presidency of the republic and to stand with him when he confronted the old guard some months later. despite the obvious transgressions that were committed to enforce this purge. The support that the new president got for purging the old guard in spite of these transgressions shows the intensity of hate that the public had developed toward them. This atmosphere helped President Sadat to gain the support of the people to succeed President Nasser after his death in 1970.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 165 activities of these intelligence agencies were substantially increased before and after the 1967 war.

Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 166 .

Our cabin was the first to be erected on the waterfront in a new development that formed the western extension of the old town of Ras al-Barr. It grieved me in a way that put me off doing things that I had always looked forward to doing every year. At that time summer homes were built to be temporary structures so that they could be moved in response to the advance and retreat of the shoreline. For many years after it was built in 1955 it was the only structure in that development. The media had led Egyptians to believe that they had an unconquerable army. It brought a sadness mixed with a feeling of anger that was directed at the media for their outright lies. which they saw disintegrating in front of the enemy in a matter of hours. I was deeply distressed by the defeat. Situated at the confluence of the Damietta branch of the Nile delta and the Mediterranean Sea. I used to hire a contractor to rebuild it around a wooden frame that he covered with mats made up from bamboo stems gathered from the nearby lakes of the northern reaches of the delta. Ras al-Barr was one of the most enchanting spots in Egypt. Among these was my yearly trip in June to the coastal town of Ras al-Barr to set up my cabin for use during the summer.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 167 5 Years of Hope and Despair 1968–1981 T he period that followed the humiliating defeat of Egypt and the Arabs in the 1967 war against Israel was a difficult and painful one. Like millions of Egyptians. it overlooked the sea on one side and had the Nile shoreline with its palm trees in the YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR | 167 . this made the beach in front of it almost private and the view from it open and unobstructed.

when we finally decided to move into it. The overwhelming majority wanted the regime to continue. This fear brought out the masses to demonstrate in the streets of the cities of Egypt when President Nasser announced his resignation from office on June 9. who were then fourteen and thirteen years old respectively. especially those who did not witness that period in the history of Egypt. This sadness in the wake of the 1967 war reflected itself also in our decision not to move to our new villa. There we spent some of the happiest times of our lives in the company of members of our extended family and the many friends whom we happily hosted. When I finally decided to go and look at the condition of the cabin by the end of July. My family shared the sadness that came with the 1967 defeat. hardly any families had gone to set up their cabins for use that summer. There were some who did not share with the majority of Egyptians their sadness and who hated the revolution and wished that the war had finished it and driven out its leader. But it remained empty until November of that year.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 168 background. which had just been finished and handed over to us by the contractor a few days before the start of the war. They did not complain or raise any questions as to why we were not spending the summer in the place they had always joyfully anticipated going to and in which they had spent every summer since their birth. My son Kareem and my daughter Sawsan. But these were a minority. of the atmosphere of gloom that shrouded the nation after the defeat of 1967. Naturally that feeling of sadness was not universal. I specifically mention these two incidents to remind the readers. I found out that most Egyptians seemed to have shared with us this feeling of despondency. They feared that its fall would affirm the victory of Israel and would cost Egypt its independence. I found the resort almost empty. We had been in the habit of passing by its site every day to make sure that the work was progressing in a manner that would satisfy our needs. despite the many reservations they had. they were clamoring that he withdraw his resignation and continue in 168 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . 1967. and we were looking forward to making it our home. President Nasser. showed an understanding of the reasons that held me from fitting our beautiful cabin for use during the summer.

President Nasser had no other choice but to rely on himself and to rebuild his nation to make it ready for the impending battle of liberation. an activity it had been systematically carrying out for close to a decade before the war. He started by YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR | 169 . conducting inquiries and investigations. With the loss of hope of a diplomatic solution. which he expected to be long and arduous. I have already alluded to this interference in the previous two chapters of this book when the military establishment infringed on civil society by building parallel organizations. I am certain that the complete history of the 1967 war will only be known when all the documents that are related to these parallel and unaccountable activities become available. The president took the matter seriously. was a great disappointment. which had been responsible for the defeat.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 169 the office of the presidency. He became convinced that the military establishment. The demonstrations showed that the masses refused to accept the defeat as final and wanted to continue the fight under Nasser’s leadership to eliminate the consequences of that war. For that end it had to forsake all interference in the affairs of civil society. I am certain that these activities and the corruption that accompanied them must have opened up opportunities for foreign intelligence agencies to penetrate the defense establishment. had to be reorganized and had to get new leadership that would bring discipline to it and restore it to performing its sole function of defending the country. The defeat changed President Nasser. as had happened in the case of the 1956 war. Its unaccountable interference in the affairs of government departments and the political organization disrupted their work and corrupted the army itself. It made a diplomatic solution to the problem of the occupation of Arab lands out of the question. President Nasser made the decision to get rid of the army leadership and to take the matter of building a new army into his own hands. The failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces to the internationally recognized borders of Egypt. and passing arbitrary and irreversible judgments that used to raise fear in the hearts of the people. Whatever the case may be. This was a good beginning that ushered the birth of a new era for the revolution and for President Nasser himself.

” which appeared on August 2. which was chosen for its honesty and competence to be in charge of the nation’s public offices. In that article I pointed out that Egypt had lost the war because it had lagged behind in adopting the methods of modern civilization in administration and government. of which the military was but one facet. none of which offered me even an office to work in or a laboratory in which to carry out my research. Another indication of the serious intent of the political leadership to mobilize the nation was its willingness to accept criticism and to listen to views that were different from its own. Taking advantage of this new atmosphere. This article was selected among the most significant hundred articles that had appeared in al-Ahram during its hundred-year history for inclusion in the book Witnesses of the Age that celebrated the occasion in 1986. Its ability to build an army and to impose peace was not going to be determined on the battlefront but rather on its ability to accept and practice these methods. They are far apart and have always left a positive impact on the life of the nation. It was one of the wisest decisions taken. I published in al-Ahram newspaper an article entitled “The extent of the civilization challenge that Egypt faces. to put its faith in the people and to try to get their support to meet the challenges of the future. as I have explained in chapter three. This decision gave me and my likes a chance to hold an executive office. helped Egypt to avoid the disasters that could have followed the defeat in the war. less than two months after the end of the war.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 170 mobilizing his own people and recruiting from among them a new leadership. In that atmosphere. for the challenge it faced was primarily a challenge of civilization. Such decisions are rare in the history of Egypt. The decision that the political leadership had taken. 1967. I had even considered leaving Egypt altogether. Looking back at the history of modern Egypt one finds that the last period in which a similar situation obtained was at the end of the rule of Khedive Isma‘il in the 170 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . It abandoned the use of mottos and slogans and allowed discussions of the problems of Egypt. a chance that would have been impossible in the atmosphere of opportunism that was prevalent before the defeat of 1967. I was being chased out of the universities. which it now came to acknowledge.

which started conspiring against him. This early and short experiment in democracy and power sharing was terminated when Great Britain occupied Egypt in 1882 and the rule of Egypt reverted to autocracy legitimized by the occupying power. Workers’ productivity increased and the balance of trade improved. and by its workers and farmers. My own evaluation is that the six-year period that elapsed between the two wars of 1967 and 1973 was one of the most luminous periods in the history of modern Egypt. It streamlined the work of the government and made it accountable. and belittles the sacrifices made during this period by its young people. whose youthful years were spent in the firing line.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 171 1870s. After the 1967 defeat the political leadership ended its dependency on the army and the intelligence apparatus because of their failure to defend the regime. He accepted to limit his powers and to share them with an elected legislative council that he established. It was an indication of the great potential Egypt has when the leadership works in tandem with the people. for the first time in many years to the benefit of Egypt. and instead reached out for the support of the people. It made sure that government and public sector appointments were made in accordance with the merit system. The results of this devoted work are reflected in the economic indices of the period. It makes me sad to see many people falling prey to the oft repeated view that aims to show Egypt as a defeated and wrecked country in the wake of the 1967 war. During this period the army was rebuilt and thousands of young men were trained in the art of modern warfare in an unparalleled atmosphere of enthusiasm and sacrifice. These reforms of the government administration were strictly adhered to until the war of October 1973. who worked hard and selflessly to contribute to YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR | 171 . when the khedive sought the support of the people after having been forsaken by the great powers. Egyptians worked hard under their new leadership in a spirit of devotion that would be hard to believe for those who had not witnessed it. This shift was reflected in the measures that the leadership took to help modernize and democratize government administration. a war that would have had no chance of success without such reforms. The reforms were soon abandoned after the 1973 war.

My guess is that this purge of the old guard was destined to come about even if President Sadat had not taken the reins of power. Barely two years after it began. Despite these intrigues our work continued unabated because of the tacit support that we got from President Nasser. The president seemed to have his own agenda and plans to effect a take off for Egypt under the leadership of some able elements that he was nurturing. who seemed not to pay any attention to the reports and petty intrigues of the old guard. I imagine that Dr. who took office after the death of President Nasser in 1970. It used its connections to drive a wedge between the president and those of his associates who were not counted among its men. I have a hunch that the exaggeration of the 1967 defeat is designed to convince Egyptians that they have no other choice but to capitulate to Israel. was one of the targets of the group’s intrigue. That take off never materialized. as I have explained in an earlier chapter. The people welcomed the president’s repeated declarations about the importance of democratic rule. During the first year of his presidency President Sadat raised the popular slogans of democracy and the rule of law. and take it to new heights. I regret to see that this period does not get the appreciation it deserves as a model to be emulated. ‘Aziz Sidqi.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 172 the welfare of the nation. During the challenging years that followed the 1967 defeat I was able to reorganize the mining organization over which I presided at the time. purged the old guard group. That group aimed to control the party and monopolize the attention of President Nasser. that enthusiasm lost part of its momentum as a result of the atmosphere of tension created by the group of the old guard that took over power in the sole political organization. They did their utmost to ruin his relationships with his associates. These declarations received credibility when the president appeared 172 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . three years after he had found his way to the people the president died. President Sadat. Thanks to the enthusiasm and devotion of the workers during that period it was possible to attain those remarkable achievements and successes. the minister of industry with whom I worked closely. thereby creating a new atmosphere that allowed us to continue in peace with the serious work that we were engaged in.

The deal did not come without a price. and he dismissed and sent back home the Soviet experts that were in Egypt.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 173 on television attacking the intelligence agencies and promising to diminish their role and to make them accountable for their actions. which was made at the expense of Egypt’s relationship with the Soviet Union. To the same plebiscite that carried the proposal to cancel that clause. The moves that the president was signaling in the first months of his presidency were temporary and were not indicative of the new policies that he was planning to introduce. He started a policy of rapprochement with the United States. The Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal and were able to set foot in Sinai. The president soon reneged on it and then cancelled it altogether in a plebiscite that he ordered to be conducted when his two terms of office were about to come to an end. he added another proposal to make Islamic shari‘a the only source for all legislation. At this point the stage was set for the intercession of the United States to make the deal that President Sadat had always yearned for. Among the most significant was that which YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR | 173 . It had its effects on many aspects of life in Egypt. Among the welcomed reforms that the new president had introduced was the inclusion in the new constitution. He cancelled the SovietEgyptian friendship pact that had been signed a few months earlier. Fully engaged by the occupation of Sinai. of a clause that would limit the duration of the presidency to two terms only. which was put for plebiscite in 1971. During the program the president burnt many of the tapes that had been illegally recorded by these agencies. the president wanted to chart a new course for its liberation by involving the intercession of the United States in the solution of the problem. When these signals did not work he entered the war in 1973. Rumors circulating after this appearance claimed that the tapes the president had burnt were those that were about him. To this end he sent many signals to the United States encouraging contacts with it through secret channels. It may be of interest to point out here that this clause was never applied. By adding this controversial and emotionally charged proposal to the plebiscite. the president was sure to get the approval to cancel the constitutional clause that prevented him from running for a third term in office.

and promised to live in peace with it and to refrain from all activities that could spoil their relations. In this treaty Egypt recognized the state of Israel. True to his aspirations. all I know is that he went ahead and carried out all the plans of that grand design. Looking back at these accords twenty five years after they were signed I can now venture to say that these accords were part of a grand design to build a new Middle East in which Israel would be accepted and guaranteed to live in security in the sea of Arabs that surrounds it from every side. They have declared wars 174 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . which Egypt had lost during the 1967 war. Ibrahim Kamel. and Butrus Butrus Ghali. established diplomatic relations with it. deriving its security not only from its military power and its monopoly of the weapons of mass destruction but also from its economic prowess. I do not know whether President Sadat was aware of this plan or not. In order to achieve that two conditions had to be satisfied. was the only motive that made him go ahead with this change. The first was to make sure that the Arab nations surrounding it were not united in any form. The Arabs have no one to blame but themselves in this regard. In return. starting with Henry Kissinger. Anwar Sadat. Israel withdrew from Sinai after it signed a treaty with Egypt in 1978.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 174 changed its economy from one that emphasized production to one that depended on services. Sinai was given back to Egypt. The design conceives Israel as a central power. In this respect the design had great success. This led to the marginalization of industry and the entire manufacturing sector in the national economy. and Moshe Dayan and ending with Jimmy Carter. This marginalization was part of a complete plan designed to prepare Egypt for the role it was expected to play in a new Middle East that was being hatched up in the United States and in which Israel was to be integrated. I do not want to go into the details of the events and deliberations that led to the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli accords for they have been the subject of the writings of those who participated in them. which agreed to keep it as a buffer zone with limited military presence. that there was no place for any talk about pan-Arabism. It is possible that his eagerness to recapture Sinai. The Arab nation has become so estranged that it has become extremely difficult to assemble its heads of state under one roof.

who were chosen from among the most inept for the sole purpose of ridding the industry of its honest and hard-working leaders and of stopping or holding back many of the useful projects that were in progress. Egypt was lured to take this path by the economic package that the donor countries extended to it in order to rescue its economy. Many Arab countries participated in these wars and all supported the ruinous sanctions that were imposed on Iraq after the 1990 war with Kuwait. By dissolving these organizations the companies were left on their own. That base. which I am picking YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR | 175 . I could cite many examples of projects that suffered from this new policy. devised their future plans. The package included opening the door for the immigration of workers especially to the Arab countries. and made sure that the projects they were undertaking were viable and properly executed. but I will only concentrate on one project. the activation of oil exploration operations. was completely destroyed in the case of Iraq during the wars that it waged against its neighbors. It began with the dissolution of the industrial organizations that supervised the work of the different companies. Worse still was the quality of the ministers of industry during that period. They were left to wither away as they were denied the budgets that they needed to run with any efficiency. Of all the Arab nations only Iraq and Egypt were close to building a viable economic base. They left the Arab League to disintegrate and to become an impotent institution. along with the entire infrastructure. The second condition for the success of this design was to make sure that none of the surrounding Arab countries had a viable and an independent economy that could intimidate or challenge the hegemony of Israel. the disintegration of its productive base occurred with the consent of its elite. the encouragement of the tourist industry.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 175 on one another and have mobilized their media to belittle and to occasionally ridicule the concept of Arab unity. which was wooed to abandon production and to enter the world of the service economy. In Egypt. I was an eyewitness to the process of dismantling the industrial base of Egypt. without supervision or plans for development or expansion. and offers of aid and long-term loans.

It was weighing the best ways for the extraction and upgrading of the ore and was busy studying the most viable methods for its development when the minister of industry. in a surprise move. Had Egypt had a viable office for mining studies it might have avoided the disastrous fate of the Abu Tartur phosphate project. accountants.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 176 from among many not because it was the most important but because it was dear to me. with the aim of the proper exploitation of the country’s mineral deposits. scientists. My letter to the prime minister asking him to intervene to cancel the minister’s decision went unheeded. Jordan. A more recent case in which the government lost many millions of pounds of investment was that of the Aswan steel project. the government discovered that the whole endeavor was nothing but a hoax. The office took this assignment seriously. decided to withdraw these studies from this office and relegate them to a foreign firm for a fee of several million pounds sterling. The decision cost Egypt dearly. It deprived her of an office that could evaluate the viability of the mining projects that were being offered for execution by local or foreign individuals or firms. and others in the art of planning and building mining projects. a subsidiary of the Arab League that was incorporated in Amman. which cost Egypt several thousands of millions of pounds without any return. I also failed in my attempt to build a mining design office in the Arab Mining Company. This project was the establishment of an office of mining design. In this office I had hoped to train a multidisciplinary team of engineers. As vice chairman of the company and member of its 176 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . which was to make use of the iron ore deposits outcropping to the east of the city of Aswan. economists. After being lured to the project by a local investor who was able to entice the president of the republic to inaugurate the site of the project. as a section in the projects department of the Egyptian mining organization. The small office that I had already started in the mining organization’s projects section was given the assignment to try its hand at laying down the plans for the development of the Abu Tartur phosphate deposit that had been discovered in the central Western Desert of Egypt and whose reserves exceeded one billion tones. which I had already started with the help of the Polish mining ministry.

according to the personnel manager of the authority. he had to have an order instructing him to accept my resignation and settle my pension. The minister’s letter of acceptance of my resignation. who was the only person authorized to accept my resignation. which cost the company millions of pounds sterling every year. By this time I had had enough of it all and I tendered my resignation from my post in late 1977. The last two years of my life as head of the geological survey and mining projects authority were lost in these futile attempts and in arguing with the inept ministers of industry that I had to deal with. His retort was that until that letter from the prime minister had been received he could not do much. The personnel manager was of the opinion that the minister did not have the authority to accept my resignation and that he had erred in doing so. The proposal was met with resistance and skepticism and was never implemented. The exit from my job as head of the geological survey did not come easily. what about accepting one that was signed by me. it needed lots of maneuvering to take effect. He should have sent it to the prime minister. The assignment of these studies to the foreign enterprises not only made matters easy but was also very lucrative for those doing the assigning. What increased my chagrin was the flow of security reports about me that continued to reach the ministers and that no one had the courage to confront me with.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 177 board of directors I proposed that the company consider building its own office to study the feasibility of the mining projects that it was executing across the Arab world rather than delegating this to foreign offices. I told the personnel manager that I did not want to wait until I got that acceptance from the prime minister. was not sufficient to release me from my duties. as the organiza- YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR | 177 . which I received by return mail. this would allow me to travel from and to the country without having to get the permission of anyone. I suggested that if the problem pertained to an order. I also wanted him to prepare the letters that I needed to present to the relevant authorities so that I could be issued a new passport that would not mention my job as a government functionary. to whom I had forwarded the minister’s letter so that he could take the necessary steps to terminate my service and settle my pension.

after the resignation of the head of the 178 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . must have made a deal with the new head of the survey to hound me and look into my actions to find what could incriminate me. but because I want to convey to the reader the hostile atmosphere that I had to cope with after leaving my office. nurtured a hostile atmosphere toward me. I signed the order that terminated my own service. the workers showered me with expressions of recognition and love despite the attitude of the new head of the organization. which were poorly funded and lacking in personnel. My end of service indemnity came to two hundred and twenty five pounds. That same minister tried to make a similar deal with me when he asked me. When I left the organization no Egyptian institution came to seek my expertise. for I most assuredly would have refused them had they been offered. He refused to attend the farewell party that the workers of the survey organized for me. let alone join the staff of any of the universities or research institutions in which they worked. These councils were one of President Sadat’s innovations to improve the material conditions of the pensioned senior members of the government and also to provide a place for those senior functionaries whom he wanted to get rid of. and ordered all members of the survey to abstain from contacting or meeting me. who. As soon as he took over my position. I mention these two examples not because I was unhappy I had not been offered any of them. This party touched me enormously. Not one of the young men or women whom I had taught asked me to give a lecture at. ransacked my workplace. I have a hunch that this attitude of the new head was instigated by no less a person than the minister of industry himself. The new head of the geological survey. I suspect. he purged the staff of my office. He reluctantly accepted the suggestion and drafted an order in which he referred to the minister’s letter in the preamble.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 178 tion’s chief executive. My pension was settled at one hundred and ten pounds a month after a service of more than forty years. who used to be one of my aides. Neither was I offered a seat on the specialized national councils to which all pensioned senior personnel of the government were almost automatically appointed when they left office. Nobody expected anything useful to come out of these councils.

It included articles that were not pertinent to the work of the survey and that were not peer-reviewed. It was painful to see the geological survey squandering valuable time in pursuing these trivia. The case was a farce and baseless because I had a ministerial order authorizing me to accept the payment. the new head of the geological survey ordered that a court case be raised against me in which I was to be accused of appropriating a financial reward without authorization. to supply him with anything that could incriminate the man. they came to apologize for having had to go ahead with a case they knew was baseless and unjustified.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 179 industrial organization. Many of the articles that appeared in that issue had been previously rejected for publication because of their poor language and bad logic. The issue of the journal that appeared the year I left office was shocking in many ways. Its activities shrank in size and deteriorated in standard. I decided to withdraw from public life and put all my YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR | 179 . It was not paid by the Egyptian government but by the Arab League as compensation for my work in preparing the by-laws of the Arab mining organization. This reward was the only remuneration that I had ever received above my salary during my ten-year tenure as head of the geological survey and mining organization. I hastened to send him a copy of it but he insisted on going ahead with the case. I received at my home a group of lawyers of the survey who had worked on the case. A case in question was that of the Annals. it declined in the kind and quality of papers it started to publish after I left office. neglecting its work and forsaking the traditions that I had tried so hard to establish. The pain and annoyance that came with incidents such as these convinced me of the wisdom of my decision to get away from this stifling atmosphere. One article had an introduction in which the author attacked me personally in a rude manner. The survey did not challenge the decision of the court. the journal of the survey that I had launched in 1970 to be a model of scientific reporting. The case was dismissed by the court in its first session. A few days after the court decision. True to this presumed deal. When I was informed of the case I assumed that the new head of the survey was unaware of this ministerial order.

deposited and withdrew money from the banks. Berlin. For twenty years he came to our home at seven o’clock in the morning to prepare our breakfast. which came to be known among our neighbors by his name. and he took care of our children when we were obliged to leave them alone at home. ‘Amm ‘Ali was a tall. dark. This required that I spend some time every year in Berlin and Dallas. I developed a great friendship with him and used to spend hours talking to him. Texas. His white garb (quftan) was always bright and clean.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 180 efforts in my consulting work. He used to follow the news over the radio and he developed greater esteem for me when he 180 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . which I had started after leaving office and which used to carry me to London. I did my work in the quietness of my home in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. handsome. and well-dressed man. The work gave me the freedom to travel abroad at any time I wished. I found him aware of the events and developments of the world. I had accepted to work as a consultant to a London-based company and as a research associate and an adjunct professor in Berlin Technical University and in the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He joined our household in 1955 when we were living in an apartment in the suburb of Maadi. handled its mail. Many times Wadad and I used to leave him alone for the entire day in our villa. he was responsible for its cleanliness and for supervising the care of its garden. the United States. who had been working in our household as a butler (sufragi) for more than twenty years. The bulk of my work was with oil companies that were exploring in Egypt. prepared its food. and a number of Arab countries. We depended on him in managing its affairs. Soon after these events my family and I faced a crisis as a result of the loss of ‘Amm ‘Ali. he moved with us to our new villa and remained with us until his death in 1978. Our life was disrupted after his death for he was an important pillar in our home. more so than many of the people with whom I had to deal in the workplace. He bought its needs. His honesty was exemplary and his appointments were kept so precisely that one could adjust one’s watch accordingly. He was also responsible for hiring the help he needed in the house and in the garden. He died when a car hit him as he was on his way home on his bicycle.

We had one who misused our car and rented it when we were away. who had gone to school. They were all and without exception liars who would say what they did not mean. he was imbued with an education that distilled the legacy and norms of an old and venerable civilization untainted by a school or by aspirations that were difficult to fulfill. He had great respect for all religions and for all places of worship. Among the things that brought satisfaction to our family was the fact that we had been able to help ‘Amm ‘Ali improve his house and add to it two more floors to accommodate his children as they got married. After his death we employed many to serve in our home but they all gave us more trouble than service or comfort. The type of people who came to serve us at our home were not very much different from those who entered the field of business during the period of the economic opening of the 1970s. Despite the fact that he had not attended any school. Some were outright thieves who would not hesitate in stealing anything of value that might be left unlocked. crashing the car and costing us thousands of pounds. They were closer to being YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR | 181 . occasionally absenting themselves altogether without giving notice. We found out that his children. ‘Amm ‘Ali had a well-built home in the district of Maadi al-Khabiri. He was difficult to replace. but he snubbed them and came to me complaining about how ignorant those people were of the true spirit of religion. ‘Amm ‘Ali was the last of a generation that was fast disappearing. When the Islamic fundamentalist tide overwhelmed Egypt in the 1970s some of his friends reproached him for working for Copts. belonged to a different and inferior breed. We had another who drove recklessly.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 181 heard of my meetings with President Nasser. ‘Amm ‘Ali was deeply religious. honored his promises. Our experience with drivers was scarcely any better. and was prompt in his appointments. The Wafd government had rebuilt the district. Others did not keep their appointments. to the north of the Maadi suburb. He also harbored great respect for his wife. ‘Amm ‘Ali was an honorable man. He had been given that house in compensation for the humble home he had lost during the high Nile flood of 1942. which had washed away the homes of that district. He kept his word.

or authorizing bank loans. I decided to liquidate the company when it became clear to me that we would be the losers whether we got into partnership with this big contractor or not. This was true of any work whether related to taxes. litigation. Retreating to the Desert My failure to enter the world of business and the death of ‘Amm ‘Ali. stop corruptive practices. The country did not have the institutions that allowed any work to be accomplished without the intervention of these powerful people. The farm was bought in one of the desert reclamation authority early auctions. My second experience was when I formed a company with some colleagues to manufacture new building materials that were to be introduced in Egypt for the first time. together with some colleagues. Even a court order could not help in cashing the check. The financial system was old and dysfunctional. The first attempt was when I tried. to establish a drilling company. or even make viable the use of bank checks. which made the service of my Cairo home difficult. registration. the biggest contracting company in Egypt approached me to ask to enter into partnership with our fledgling company or else it would establish a new company to chase us out of the market. These two experiences proved to me that carrying out any business in Egypt was difficult unless one had good contacts with the people in power.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 182 crooks than entrepreneurs. I tried twice to enter the world of business during this decade and vowed never to try my hand at it again. It was situated deep in the Western Desert of Egypt in 182 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . It did not protect privacy. Several times I failed to cash a check as it bounced because of lack of funds. As soon as the company was registered with the investment authority. which I was now seriously contemplating. I soon decided to resign when I found out that some of my partners were conniving to run the company for their own interests and without transparency. encouraged me to hasten with my plans to prepare the desert farm that I had bought in 1974 for my years of retirement. obtaining licenses.

which was frequently done in cooperation with international scientific organizations. the oases of Egypt were inaccessible places inhabited by a few people who lived in total isolation. some thirty kilometers to the south of Kharga town. The work included the study of the groundwater reservoir of the Western Desert and northern Sudan. Agriculture was then limited to small areas around the few artesian wells whose waters were RETREATING TO THE DESERT | 183 . At that time the economy of the oases and the very life of its inhabitants revolved around the palm tree. I personally knew the oases when they were not linked to the valley of the Nile by asphalt roads and when reaching them was an arduous task that needed a great deal of preparation. and reclaimed about 40.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 183 the outskirts of the village of Bulaq. it was the headquarters of the desert reclamation authority that was established at the end of the 1950s to reclaim and develop the oases of that desert. built an airport outside the town of Kharga. constructed housing units. It experimented with the crops that were best suited for desert agriculture and carried out experiments to determine the optimum amount of water that was required for their growth. established many new communities.000 new acres of land during the fifteen-year period in which it was active. It also embarked on a detailed soil survey of the lands of the oases. It laid down hundreds of kilometers of roads. The oasis of Kharga is one of the oases of the Western Desert. It sunk hundreds of wells to determine the nature and size of the groundwater reservoir beneath that large stretch of land. I was particularly charmed with the oasis of Kharga. This authority was responsible for the pioneering and multidisciplinary work carried out in this field. which I had become familiar with during my recurring visits to it as I was following up on the progress of the work at the Abu Tartur phosphate deposit. My family and I had fallen in love with this desert and its wide empty expanses of land during our many visits to it. Its crop of dates was exchanged for the cloth and other basic necessities that were brought to the oases by caravans of traders from Upper Egypt at the end of every summer season. It raised maps and conducted scientific research. the capital of the oasis bearing the same name. Until the establishment of this authority.

In addition to being used to station the advance garrisons of the empire they were extensively exploited to grow bumper crops of wheat. and burial grounds. During the Roman rule of Egypt they became heavily populated. only a few inhabitants remained behind to live around the few naturally flowing artesian wells that tapped their water from the deeper water-bearing beds of the groundwater reservoir. The extensive and unregulated use of the groundwater reservoir by the Romans resulted in the drying up of the wells and the increase of the salinity of the land. The inhabitants of the oases used to live in walled villages with narrow. which allowed them to reach these beds. before peace had finally come to them toward the end of the nineteenth century. The oases still hold a large number of monuments of this period including remains of dwellings. By the end of Roman rule in Egypt the oases were almost depopulated. The Egyptian oases were incorporated into a new administration that had its capital in the town of Kharga and to which an English governor was appointed. These villages were built so as to give protection to the inhabitants from the frequent Bedouin raids to which they were exposed throughout their history. The oases were also a place where the Christians of Egypt found refuge from Roman persecution.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 184 gushing to the surface and did not need to be lifted. when the oases received some attention when it was feared that they could be overtaken by the forces of the Mahdi revolution that was raging in the Sudan at that time and that had already made incursions along many of the unbeaten paths of the deserts of southern Egypt. He built for himself a palatial home to the north of the town in a grove of palm trees. This situation continued until the latter years of the nineteenth century. This was possible because the Romans had mastered the art of well drilling. Since then Kharga oasis became an advanced 184 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . From the most ancient of times the oases were regarded as an integral part of Egypt where the central government in the Nile valley always sought to have a presence and to establish a connection. monasteries. churches. roofed streets. which were irrigated with the water that was tapped from the shallow water-bearing beds of the groundwater reservoir of the oases.

Governor al-Gughayl led and coordinated the extensive program of development of the oasis. He was young. His leadership qualities were superb. which together with the natural beauty of the oasis made the idea of living in it and making it the place of my retirement very attractive. When my friend Hassan Fathi. the well-known architect. and devoted to his work. some thirty kilometers to the south of Kharga town.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 185 outpost to which a yearly subsidy was sent and in which a deep well was drilled by the central government every now and long then to increase its water supply. His amiable personality made him beloved by the inhabitants of the oasis. I became closely associated with him when I was occupied with the Abu Tartur phosphate project in which he was keenly interested and whose progress he closely followed. I entered the first auction that the desert reclamation authority announced for the sale of farm lots and bought myself a twenty-five acre palm grove near the village of Bulaq. This situation lasted until the arrival of the desert reclamation authority in the mid years of the twentieth century and the appointment of ‘Abd al-Magid al-Gughayl of the army corps of engineers as governor. I became acquainted with Governor al-Gughayl when he represented the district of the Western Desert in the parliaments in which I was a member. The spirit in which the work was done created a pleasant atmosphere. came to know of my wish to build a home on that farm he was kind enough to modify a plan that he had originally prepared for my home in Maadi to fit within the atmosphere of the area. He ordered the workshops of the governorate to build the temporary storehouses that the project needed. aggressive. which was progressing with enthusiasm due to a devoted group of scientists and engineers. I went ahead and built the farmhouse with the help of a builder who had been trained in the art of using adobe and building domes by Hassan Fathi himself. many of whom he knew by name. The governor was also keenly interested in following up and encouraging the work of the desert reclamation authority. The builder was a member of the team that Hassan Fathi had recruited to construct the administrative building in the village of Baris to the south of the oasis RETREATING TO THE DESERT | 185 .

a distance that took ten hours of driving to traverse. The site was beautiful and enchanting. there was not a single decent place along it where one could have a rest or a snack or even go to a decent bathroom. and the falling into disuse of many of the old implements that had been used since time immemorial. the pump. old. my son Kareem. The first three hundred and fifty kilometers of this distance lay along the narrow. I built our house in the southwest corner of the farm on the edge of the desert. The driving along this stretch of road until it branches off to the Kharga desert road to the north of the town of Asyut was extremely treacherous. and collecting specimens of the implements and other artifacts that we saw fast disappearing in front of our own eyes as the oases opened up to the world. We wanted to collect as many as we could of these old implements that we had hoped could make the nucleus of a museum. The western side was the edge of the vast Western Desert while the southern side was saline and abandoned lowland. and my daughter Sawsan fell in love with the place and we made sure that we would spend every holiday available to us in it. The distance that separated this house from my home in Maadi measured six hundred kilometers. and other modern agricultural machinery on the ways of farming. which bordered the house on two sides. This used to cause discomfort to the entire family. We saw the effect of the introduction of the plough. This change happened in a matter of a few years. Among the remarkably rapid changes that we witnessed was the change in the position of women in the oasis society. The long distance that we had to drive to it did not deter us from going there regularly. The road was not ready for long-distance travel. My wife Wadad. once when 186 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . so much so that the saying went that a woman was allowed to go out of her home only twice in her lifetime. The times we spent in the oasis were extremely happy. When we first came there the woman was a prisoner of her home. and highly congested Upper Egypt road that ran along the western bank of the River Nile. We fitted our house with simple furniture. traveling to all corners of the surrounding deserts.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 186 that he had been commissioned to put up in the early 1970s. We enjoyed working on the farm. She was not allowed to leave it except on rare occasions.

The RETREATING TO THE DESERT | 187 . In less than ten years we saw this changing completely. The authority was also responsible for the introduction of modern agricultural machinery and for the use of the car in transportation. My experience in agriculture in the oasis permitted me to become acquainted with the problems that made desert agriculture costly and limited in return. and this told me something about why Egyptian farmers craved to have large families with as many children as possible so that they could take over the farming of the land when the farmer got old.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 187 she went to her new home when she got married and the other when she was taken to her grave when she died. leaving her husband behind in the oasis to take care of their child. I also learnt that farming was a tough undertaking that needed a great deal of physical fitness to perform. I found out that it was one of the most labor-intensive trees and needed a lot of care. which had to be done by hand. It was so impotent that it could not do anything by itself including its pollination. which opened schools. via cement-lined canals that extended for hundreds of kilometers. drilled many deep wells. and pumped their water. It was rare to find anyone above the age of forty who could work at it. Foremost among these was the high cost of extracting and transporting water from the wellhead to the reclaimed lands. to the new land that it had reclaimed. It then sold this land at a reasonable price to the farmers of the oases or to the migrant labor that was enticed to leave the overcrowded villages of Upper Egypt for this new land. In making these changes the authority was conducting a new social experiment that aimed at building a modern egalitarian community. As I settled down in my new home. I bought a number of books and the necessary implements to start farming the small piece of land that I had set aside in front of my home for that purpose. Much of the credit for these changes must go to the desert reclamation authority. Contrary to the impression that I had always had about the palm tree that it did not need much care to grow. I started to teach myself the art of farming and to get to know something about the palm tree. Girls started going to and graduating from schools and holding different jobs. We even knew one married woman from the village of Bulaq who accepted to work as a teacher in an Arab country.

I may also mention among those who became regular visitors to our home in the desert the German ambassador to Egypt in the 1970s. In addition. who were introduced to the desert and its charm during their visits. who fell in love with the desert and accompanied us on many of our trips across the deserts of Egypt. Many areas were not leveled and most lay in closed basins with no external drainage. One of the major problems that faced desert agriculture was that most of the land was poorly drained and with time tended to become saline. The harsh weather also had its toll on the limited number of plants and crops that could survive that weather.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 188 fact that the water that reached the reclaimed lands of the oases was delivered free of charge did not warrant the neglect of its cost when assessing the viability of desert agriculture. and Gazbiya Sirri. Despite the effort and money I invested in our farm. My home in the oasis became almost like a club where many of the writers and artists of Egypt met. Among the Egyptians who were introduced to the desert through their visit to our home in the 188 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . I got little if any return except for the few beautiful hours I spent in it with my family and with the many friends who shared with us the love for the place. and his wife Traute. Hans Steltzer. ‘Abd al-Ghani and Re’aya Abu al-‘Inayn. I have lived to see the limited results of the experiment of the desert reclamation authority in desert agriculture. This accumulation was usually prevented by going through the additional expense of surrounding the land with trees. Another serious problem that made desert agriculture costly was the need of its areas to be protected from the sand-carrying winds. to which most of them were exposed and which led to the accumulation of dunes. Of these I may single out the artists Inji Iflatun. for that cost was borne by the national economy to the tune of no less than one thousand Egyptian pounds per feddan (acre) of reclaimed land. desert agriculture suffered from the many problems that beset the agriculture industry in Egypt as a whole with regard to its financing and its lack of supporting services and marketing opportunities. Despite the great effort and the devotion given to that experiment I have seen the thousands of feddans that were abandoned and the dozens of wells that dried up or suffered a substantial decrease in their discharge.

RETREATING TO THE DESERT | 189 . This rumor found receptive ears. Some of the local people looked at me as an intruder who had come to exploit their land and use his influence to withdraw more than his share of water to irrigate his farm. When I started building my home they propagated the rumor that it was in reality a church. This was related to me by one of my former students who had attended that meeting. When I installed an antenna on my home to operate a small meteorological station to record the speed of the wind. The atmosphere in the oasis became even more poisoned from the mid 1970s. the well-known attorney and the former minister of culture. 1982. many believed it including a former governor of the district. The few extremists who belonged to the fundamentalist groups. who repeated it to a group of geologists who were visiting the oasis and who had asked him about me. The budget of the project was cut and its employees and technicians were transferred to other jobs.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 189 oasis was Gamal al-‘Utayfi. when the entire desert reclamation project was neglected and lost the attention of the new president. who had started the project and whose name was associated with it. thus depriving them of getting their fair share of water especially during the summer months when the demand exceeded supply. My coming to the oasis surprised many and inspired many queries among the local population. being the expert who knew the land of Egypt and its hidden wealth. leaving the project to disintegrate. spread the rumor that I had come to the oasis to lead a massive Coptic immigration to it. A security officer was soon dispatched to my home to investigate. This was done in compliance with a political decision that had been taken by President Sadat to liquidate the legacy of President Nasser. Many of the names of the new hamlets and villages of that project were reminders of the mottos and signs of President Nasser’s age. which were nurtured by the government during the 1970s. the matter was reported to the security apparatus as a radio transmittal station to communicate with Israel. whose visit seemed to have impressed him to the extent that he mentioned it in the article that he wrote about me in alMussawar magazine of July 23. Some thought that I must have gone there because of a treasure that I had discovered.

when the oasis became a refuge for the fundamentalists of the city of Asyut in Upper Egypt when they fled to it after their insurgency was quelled in 1981. I looked forward to spending more time with my family. I felt that fifteen years in the field of politics was quite enough and. What added to this distressing atmosphere were the heightened tensions that came after the assassination of President Sadat. The Crisis of 1981 After resigning my public office and withdrawing from the field of politics. On the one hand. and our dream to spend our retirement years there in peace. I therefore decided to pick from among the consulting work that came to my office only those jobs that did not stipulate a deadline. the tranquility and stillness of the oasis. The first was an invitation to join the National Democratic Party that the president was forming at the time. in 1978 and 1979 respectively. the late Mahmud Abu Wafya. came to an end. I did not want to identify myself with the new policies that President Sadat had introduced. on the other hand. With these added security measures. who stopped the cars and asked intrusive questions of all the passers by.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 190 The break that occurred between President Sadat and the Muslim fundamentalist groups toward the end of his rule in the late 1970s and shortly before his death in 1981 called for more forceful security measures. and the second was an invitation to become a 190 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . I wanted to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. This gave the men who were responsible for their application in the oasis extraordinary powers that lent the oasis a distressing and distrustful atmosphere. The only road that connected the oasis with the valley was blocked by many impediments and checkpoints manned by security officers. I therefore declined two offers that the president made to me via his brother-in-law and close confidant. something I had been unable to do before because of the two jobs that I had held. So after leaving parliament in 1976 I took the decision to withdraw completely from the world of politics and not to join any political organization or party.

He thought that by abandoning Nasser’s legacy he would be sending a signal of friendship to the United States. Nevertheless. Great effort was exerted to emphasize Islam in education. He wanted to get rid of that legacy so that he could embark on a new policy of his own and begin wooing the United States. During those years I did not attend any political meeting and did not write any articles or express any points of view in any newspaper or other medium. accumulating money and leading the campaign against President Nasser. and many other business ventures. about its limits or about its position vis-à-vis the problems of the modern world. I abstained from any political activity whatsoever. where he generously offered them leading positions in the government and the public sector and allowed them to invest their money in so-called Islamic activities in the fields of banking. Talk about the application of the Islamic shari‘a law became common even when there was no consensus. Egypt changed under the influence of these groups. which the President was forming to act as an opposition party and which he thought would fit me. education. which were given free rein to propagate their ideas by distributing books and cassettes THE CRISIS OF 1981 | 191 . President Sadat invited these groups to come back to Egypt. He thoroughly believed that the United States owned ninety-nine percent of the cards of the Middle East game and that it alone had the key to any solution with Israel. He could not find a better ally to help him lose that legacy than the groups of political Islam that had been taking refuge in Saudi Arabia.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 191 founding member of the labor opposition party.” I also declined to become a member of the right wing al-Ahrar party. Under their influence the face of Egypt started to change. since I did not “want to be a member of the government party. I followed with interest the changes that President Sadat was introducing to carve a place for himself in the midst of the overwhelming legacy that President Nasser had left.” and the president’s name was given a new emphasis by adding the first name of Muhammad to it. which he wanted to win to his side. For close to five years and for as long as President Sadat was in office. even among its students. New mottos began appearing. Egypt had now become the country of “science and faith. mixing religion with politics.

and extolled the virtues of returning to the fundamentals and norms of Bedouin societies. cooking oil. and of the United States. As soon as the new prices were announced the people poured out onto the city streets to protest the government’s action. such as his intent to reduce the role of the public sector in the national economy. The president thought that these changes would be sufficient to win him the support of Saudi Arabia. They were well funded by Arab oil money.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 192 that were locally produced or imported. the hatred of the religious other. and butane bottles. Saudi Arabia wanted more concessions from the Egyptian government before it would channel its funding to it rather than to the fundamentalist groups it was supporting at the time. the Egyptian government found no way out but to comply with these demands. The extremists were left to control a large number of mosques and the Friday prayer became a noisy demonstration. its television programs were interrupted to air the call to prayer and they became loaded with religious programs and the appearance of a new cast of stars from among the religious leaders. That decision was taken in January 1977. The protest was 192 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . The United States wanted Egypt to undertake the fundamental structural changes to its economy that had been proposed by one of the International Monetary Fund missions to Egypt. the sermons were transmitted by loud megaphones all over the city. In the universities the students who belonged to the fundamentalist groups were allowed to adorn the walls and bulletin boards with their announcements and to intimidate students and professors. cloth. Many women started to cover their heads and/or their faces out of fear or out of conviction. tea. such as bread. all these measures were not enough. However. sugar. Given the circumstances. which included among others the cancellation of the subsidies that the government advanced on many of the basic commodities used by the average citizen. The government itself subscribed to this new atmosphere. which would classify Egypt among its allies. these called for sedition. which would then provide him with funds. In addition to these obvious changes. and his refrain from any mention or discussion of the concept of pan-Arabism. there were the less obvious and less advertised measures that the president took to please his new allies.

who was deeply apprehensive.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 193 spontaneous. Most of the attacks were directed at the centers of government authority such as police stations and security offices and at the symbols of flagrant consumption such as nightclubs. who felt that he had been abandoned by his own people and that the groups of political Islam that he had fostered had proved to be of no great help. which were asking him for more concessions that he could not deliver. It did not represent a possible substitute for the help he THE CRISIS OF 1981 | 193 . arson. an act which many leaders of the world had been urging him to do for a long time. After the subsidies were re-installed peace returned to the street but not to the president. The protest started in Cairo and soon moved to Alexandria and from there to the various cities of Egypt. The demonstrations were so widespread that the president. Faced with this difficult situation President Sadat felt he had no option but to do what no other Arab leader had dared. It was so strong and sudden that it surprised and shook the government and the leadership. namely to appeal to Israel in the hope that he could find there the support that he had failed to get from his Arab colleagues and the door through which he could reach the heart of the United States. nobody seemed to have organized it. He could not depend on the erratic help that came from the Arab oil states. This alternative was not on the table. He also found that he could not rely on the United States because of the many conditions it wanted to see fulfilled before it was willing to advance any aid. where it landed. At this juncture I want the reader to note that it never occurred to the president to appeal to the people and seek their assistance in solving the economic problems that Egypt was facing. was advised to avoid landing his plane at Cairo airport and to divert it to a military base. declared a state of emergency and a curfew on the city of Cairo and ordered the deployment of army units in many large cities. He also found himself facing a deteriorating economic situation in the country. and the destruction of property. The president made his decision to visit Jerusalem and to start building bridges with Israel. From there the president. who was on his way home from Aswan to Cairo. expensive cars. and five-star hotels. It began peacefully and ended in stone throwing.

by envying them the “opulent and good life” they were enjoying. It is true that in public the president always had good words to say about the people of Egypt. In his mature years he had seen the sheikhs of Arabia drowning in wealth without exerting any effort. 194 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . and now Israel. the Soviet Union. In fact. His personal experience pointed to this. The Egyptian graduate students who were studying in the United States in the 1960s remember him beginning his talk to them. All the jobs he had held before becoming president were connected in one way or another to the field of public relations. whom he described as the descendants of a civilization going back seven thousand years. and never relegated to him the portfolio of any ministry engaged in production of any kind. then the president of the Islamic Conference and finally the speaker of parliament. when he was on an official visit to the United States. in his childhood he had seen the owners of the land enjoying an opulent lifestyle without doing any work. A cursory look at the names of his confidants and assistants or at his choices for the ministers of production makes clear that they were not appointed on the basis of their knowledge or expertise. It seemed that President Nasser was aware of this shortcoming. After all. He now had to back away from many of the reforms he had then introduced. but deep in his heart he did not believe in their potential or their effectiveness. He did not hesitate to appoint third rate engineers as ministers of industry and a police officer as a prime minister. He was the editor of the revolution’s daily paper. the entire life of the president did not involve any productive work. The success of the new policy toward Israel that the president had initiated with his visit to Jerusalem depended on the suppression of the rising opposition to this policy from all sides of the political spectrum.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 194 was seeking from outside powers: the Arabs. The most vociferous and publicized opposition came from the forces that the president himself had unleashed when he declared his political open door policy two years before the 1977 popular uprising. the United States. I suppose that the president did not recognize that work and production are the foundations of the wealth of nations or that they play any role in the lives of those nations’ subjects. He was enthralled by everything foreign.

It also removed all barriers that had prevented the free movement of persons or prohibited the exchange of goods. About fifty independent members had been elected to this parliament. The president signed the law “in front of the people and in their presence” in a ceremony that was aired on government television the day it was passed by parliament on February 3. fired the editor of a third magazine (Rose al-Yusuf) and interrupted the publication of the left-wing weekly al-Ahali several times until it was forced to close down.” The law dubbed “the safety of the citizen and the nation” prohibited all demonstrations.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 195 He halted the application of the principle of freedom to form political parties. and cultural relations with it. the well-known legal expert. It included a life sentence in prison with hard labor for anyone participating in or playing a role in organizing such gatherings or in joining a strike. The signing of the accords took place in the White House under unusual if not difficult conditions. He also closed down two governmentowned magazines (al-Tali‘a and al-Katib). considering them illegal acts aimed at disturbing the public peace. He chased many journalists and forced many to find refuge in countries outside Egypt. In March 1979 the president signed the Camp David accords that ended the state of war with Israel and established normal diplomatic. The Egyptian minister of foreign affairs who was accompanying the president refused to attend the THE CRISIS OF 1981 | 195 . many of which approached the president himself or his close associates. so much so that it is said that close to one fifth of the registered members of the journalists’ syndicate immigrated to the Arab countries or to Europe. It was voted upon in a plebiscite a week after it was signed by the president. He shunned the policies that would have given his regime a democratic face. The greatest infringement on the rights of the citizen occurred with the passage of the law that was appropriately described by Dr. A mass emigration of Egyptian journalists took place during the 1970s. al-‘Utayfi. economic. They were among the most vocal critics of the policies of the president. He muzzled the parliament that was the result of the elections of 1976. as the “law of ill repute. 1977. uncovering cases of corruption that had become rampant during the 1970s.

This campaign succeeded in convincing the president of the propriety of his action. seemed to evaporate with the flood of praise that the American media had showered upon him. hoping that the termination of hostilities with Israel might have a positive effect on the economic prospects of the country and help improve the living conditions of the populace. That uncertainty. the strongest Arab nation. So did the political Islamic forces. Sa‘id al-Naggar in his office in the World Bank. 196 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . Many others did not share this view. The aftermath of the signing of the accords was earth shaking. It was the source of great joy in Israel. He invited me to move to a nearby room that was fitted with a television to watch the signing ceremony. It signaled the beginning of the realization of its long-range plans to build the country on the entire land of Palestine.C. In so doing the Arabs contributed to the realization of Israel’s goal to fragment the Arab world.. from the arena of the Arab-Israeli conflict and gained its neutrality if not its friendship. Some of the praise was so exaggerated as to seem ridiculous. In the Arab world it was met with great anger. As he mounted the plane back home he chided the Egyptian journalists who were accompanying him for not having recognized his genius as the foreign journalists had done. The president looked upset and seemed to be unsure of himself or of the wisdom of what he had done. Many had a wait-and-see attitude. notwithstanding the blessing that the accords had received from the official religious establishment. The political left in all its shades fiercely resisted the accords. It removed Egypt. which he attributed to his far sightedness and to his political acumen.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 196 signing ceremony since he objected to some of its terms. In Egypt itself the reception of the accords was lukewarm at best. The American television channels were mobilized to support him in his stand against the massive refusal of the accords that came from all corners of the Arab world. I was at that time on a stopover in Washington D. The Islamic forces that were closely associated with Saudi Arabia were angered by the derogatory remarks that the president had uttered against the rulers of that kingdom. Decisions were taken by the Arab nations to sever all relations with Egypt and to move the headquarters of the Arab League from Cairo to Tunis. however. visiting Dr.

the blows of Mr. It took a great deal of effort to locate these heirs. He could not deliver on his promise to bring prosperity to Egyptians after the signing of the accords. be compensated for the assets that had been confiscated or nationalized by the Egyptian government. Begin had held with President Sadat in Egypt. the Israeli prime minister who was his counterpart in signing the accords. Begin continued. who were now dispersed in all corners of the globe. The timing of the raid gave the impression that the president had been informed of the raid and that he had condoned it. Matters at home did not fare any better. He seized every opportunity to lecture the president about the historical rights of Israel in the land of Palestine and to reiterate the oft-repeated claim of the Israelis that the responsibility for the tension in the region rested with the Arabs. The Western countries did not come to his rescue and did not deliver the aid they had promised him and that he had hoped to use to bring about that prosperity. Even Israel did not give him the support he needed. He THE CRISIS OF 1981 | 197 . He also asked him to eliminate all infringements that had taken place on the synagogues and the graveyards that belonged to the community. used every opportunity to humiliate him and to disparage Egypt’s policies and history. Added to these difficulties were the endless battles that the president went through with the many forces that disagreed with his policies. Rather than offering him its backing.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 197 Thus the president’s new policy toward Israel found cautious support from the people of Egypt and massive opposition from the Arab countries as well as from many influential circles within Egypt itself. Menachem Begin. he found it expedient to comply with all that was asked of him. He demanded from the president that the Egyptian Jewish community. Despite this compliance and good will on the part of the president. which had left Egypt many decades earlier. Despite the displeasure that the president obviously felt as he sat listening to these long lectures. He saw to it that the assets of the Jewish community in Egypt were returned to their heirs. an effort that helped enrich many. the most painful of which came with the Israeli air force raid on the Iraqi nuclear facility that was carried out immediately after a meeting that Mr. it treated him with disdain and arrogance.

During this period the president tried to project a humanitarian image for himself in an attempt to mitigate the harshness of the actions that he took against his enemies.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 198 entered into a confrontation with the lawyers’ and journalists’ syndicates. He clashed with the political parties of both the left and the right. his former colleague on the revolutionary council. In some unforgettable coverage. He collided frequently with parliament and manipulated matters to purge from its ranks some of its prominent opposition members. and Kamal Ahmad of the Nasserist party. the well-known member of the old Wafd party. a leading newspaper published on its front page an article about the personal life of the president and how he spent his day from the time he woke up. He used the television and the radio. he angered the Copts. he seldom read a report in its entirety. ‘Abd al-Fattah Hasan. He even fell out with his old allies. He also clashed with the intellectuals. frequently reminding them that they were a minority living in a Muslim country under a Muslim president. the different Islamic groups that he had helped create. there was the other image he wanted to convey to his enemies to 198 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . This was not unexpected from someone who was known not to be well read and not to be surrounded by knowledgeable people. who declared a jihad against his regime and started carrying arms with the intent of assassinating him. The newspapers were also used to communicate this humanitarian message. where he had regular interviews that lasted for hours in an attempt to accomplish this goal. According to the testimony of many who knew the president closely. Many a time these interviews had the opposite effect and became the subject of derision and ridicule. including details of his morning exercises and the kind of breakfast he usually ate. It became the subject of ridicule. The article filled a whole page and was adorned with many photographs. In contrast to the humanitarian image he wanted to project to the public. namely Kamal al-Din Husayn. Finally. The interviews were mostly lacking in depth and typically simplistic. whom he labeled as “the gentlemen of the cities” and whom he accused of not knowing much about the soul of their country. even the reports that were of immediate concern to the governing of the state were conveyed to him verbally and in abbreviated form.

A new administration had come to the White House and Ronald Reagan. The not so enthusiastic reception the president received in this visit must have made him suspicious of the intentions of the United States. It did not represent. The case of the Shah of Iran. In addition. any challenge to his rule. in his opinion. which he was confident that he had gained. He frequently referred to his people. where he got a lukewarm reception. During that visit he found out that he was no longer the star he used to be when he was conducting the negotiations of the Camp David accords and the Egyptian-Israeli treaty. did not know him and did not seem to care to develop a special relationship with him. That confidence was shaken after his visit to the United States in the summer of 1981. who was his guest in Egypt at that time. the new president and his party did not want to devote much time to reconciling the differences of two small nations as had been done by Jimmy Carter. President Sadat’s visit to the States that year proceeded without the usual fanfare and his meeting with President Reagan was lukewarm at best. his grip on power was guaranteed. Nevertheless the Egyptian newspapers were replete with the successes that the visit had achieved.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 199 instill fear in their hearts. The problems of the region lost a great deal of their urgency after the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. He was also the redoubtable head of the armed forces. often appearing attired in a strange military outfit that was especially made for him by a European designer and holding a field marshal’s staff. and for which he had been severely criticized. He was certain that as long as he had the support of the United States. his was the final word. and his ambassador. The whole Middle East region did not represent a priority to the new Republican administration. Here was a monarch that the United States had considered as its principal ally in the critical and strategic Persian Gulf region and who THE CRISIS OF 1981 | 199 . the former president. must have come to his mind. The president did not seem to think that the opposition he had created inside Egypt was of any consequence. He was the head of the Egyptian family who bestowed and denied. whose support he feared he might have lost. the new president. his minister.

The president reasoned that anyone who would be involved in a plot that had any relationship to the Soviet Union would come into contact with Mr. alZayyat from among the many personalities that the president ordered to be watched because my only visit to his home changed the path of my life and put my name among the list of conspirators against the president. As he mounted the plane that took him back to Egypt. who was a good friend of mine and who was my companion in many parliamentary missions. al-Zayyat in his home I was led to his bedroom where he was lying in bed. The president put the Soviet Union at the top of his list of enemies. Once back in Egypt he started to give rambling speeches in which he accused many people of conspiring against him. Al-Zayyat had a good relationship with the Soviet Union. He was certain that it had plans to remove him from power. He ordered the intelligence service to watch and eavesdrop on many prominent personalities whom he thought could lead a coup against him. al-Zayyat. and yet the United States had not come to his rescue and had abandoned him when the Khomeini revolution erupted. he was the president of the Soviet-Egyptian Friendship Association. After all. He warned that these doings could bring about a serious split in the nation. His deteriorating relationship with the Soviet Union made him suspicious of its intentions. I single out Mr. There were two journalists sitting by his bed. the president appeared nervous and tense. al-Zayyat be put under the surveillance of the intelligence agency.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 200 had served the United States like no other. He announced that he and a large number of people planned to write a message to the president warning 200 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . I joined those that were present in condemning these deeds. al-Zayyat might know something about those intentions. When I visited Mr. One of these personalities was ‘Abd al-Salam al-Zayyat. the former vice-prime minister. He thought that Mr. As I entered he welcomed me heartily and soon raised the question of the strained relationships between Muslims and Copts. even though my visit had been merely to wish the man a speedy recovery from the heart attack that he had suffered. which were being fueled by the doings and utterances of the president. So he ordered that Mr.

. recorded by the listening devices tucked in the bedroom of Mr. al-Zayyat. Nevertheless.” The publication of the list in the newspapers was unprecedented and indicative of the disrespect the president had for the law and the principles of human rights. which he started preparing after his return from his visit to the United States in the summer of 1981 or even before that date. this publicity was of some use.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 201 him of the seriousness of the path he was taking in this regard.” The president must have been engaged daily in listening to the tapes that must have come to him every morning from the different homes on which he was eavesdropping. I then left his house. the little that I had in the States I had already spent in buying a house on the outskirts of Washington. it gave my sister the chance to telephone me from Cairo to inform me of my fate. The word “safeguard” was one of the innovations that the president introduced to replace the infamous and hated word “jail. an accusation that would put me under the axe of the ill-reputed 1978 law of “protecting the social peace. for I had no money. The news came as a great shock to me. it frustrated my plans and put me in a situation that I was not ready for. D. She advised me to stay where I was until things cleared up. I had to find for myself a source of income. the upholding of which had always made the government carry out its arrests and jailing in secret and without any advertisement. He asked me if I would be willing to sign that message and I answered in the affirmative. The list was published in the Egyptian newspapers after a long and rambling speech by the president in parliament.500 personalities from whom the president had decided to “safeguard” the nation.C. While in the United States in the summer of 1981. to be the home of my daughter Sawsan. were taken as proof that I was participating in a plot to instigate sectarian strife. He must have asked that my name be added to the list of conspirators against his regime. Nevertheless the details of my visit. I heard that my name was included in a long list of 1. I had to cancel my plans to go back to Egypt within two weeks and I had to do something about the consulting work that was awaiting me there. who was soon to be mar- THE CRISIS OF 1981 | 201 . As it happened the message was never written and no signatures were sought from anybody.

I had just left my post in Southern Methodist University as an adjunct professor for the year. Some even suggested that he should share its produce with them. In the first place. Gamal al-‘Utayfi to look after my case in Egypt. 202 | YEARS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR . The solution of all these problems was not easy. She returned to Cairo carrying the keys of our home and the power of attorney to settle many of our affairs and to transfer to us some funds from our savings. She also carried a message to Dr. I did not hold any job. I had not planned to be away from Egypt beyond the month of September. His reaction was that of someone who had seen a dead man come back to life.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 202 ried. He shunned me when he knew that my name was on the list. On the contrary. many led the guardsman left on the farm to look after its daily affairs to believe that I had gone for good and would never come back to see the farm. Neither had I made any arrangements for the people who worked for us in our household or in my office to be paid. people were avoiding me and I could not find anyone who was ready to look after my farm and home in the oasis. I had not made arrangements for the expenses and maintenance fees of our house or our farm in Egypt. I did not even have my checkbooks with me or my bank account numbers. the atmosphere in Egypt was so loaded and tense that my sister preferred to telephone me from a nearby Cairo hotel rather than from her home for fear that it might be under surveillance by the security agencies. In addition. I had not left the keys of our Cairo house behind with anyone. which he gladly accepted without asking for any remuneration. We had no winter clothes. In fact. I could not ask the help of a former student of mine who had settled in the States and had become a United States citizen to deliver the keys of my Cairo house to my sister during the visit he was planning to Egypt at that time. The situation remained fluid for two weeks until my sister arrived from Cairo to attend my daughter’s wedding with the latest news. When I reappeared on the farm after a year’s absence the man could not believe his eyes.

That was followed by her resignation from her post at the end of that leave. I resigned from my retainer jobs with the oil companies. which some oil companies working in Egypt were funding. Muslims and Copts. It became even more MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN | 203 . Wadad. which included a variety of personalities of every shade of political activity. who held a professorship at the American University in Cairo. The case of the detainees was one of the pressing issues that faced the new president. There was a small insurgency by an Islamic group in Asyut in Upper Egypt that was soon quelled. Realizing that it would be a long time before we could go back to Egypt. the transition was orderly and peaceful. For the first time in many years a relaxed atmosphere reigned over the country.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 203 6 My Life as an Egyptian American 1981–2003 T he decision to make the United States our new home set off great changes in our lives. President Sadat was assassinated while reviewing the Egyptian army as it was celebrating the anniversary of the October 6 war. and from carrying out the large and open-ended project of the preparation of a new geological map of Egypt and the writing of a new version of my book The Geology of Egypt. my wife Wadad and I started to extricate ourselves from our commitments in Egypt. right and left. old and young. The presidency went to the then vice-president Hosni Mubarak. applied for a one-year leave of absence without pay. Barely one month after the announcement of the list of detainees.

was sent to the court. 1982. Reda Muharram. My case remained in suspense until the month of October 1982 when Dr. entitled “Tragedy of an Egyptian Scientist. professor of mining at al-Azhar university. 204 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . All he knew about me then was my name. which he promised to be short. He did that even though he was not one of my students and did not even know me personally. 1982. He told me that the closing of my case might require me to appear before a security officer for questioning. I am singling out Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Azim Abu al-‘Ata. wrote a long article in alAhram al-iqtisadi of July 5. al‘Utayfi told me that this was not the case as I was not an appellate in that legal action. in which I retorted by saying that it would be better to describe my case not as the tragedy of a scientist but rather as the tragedy of a nation.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 204 pressing after the death in jail of Dr.” in which he asked the government “in the name of the scientific community and in the name of all the citizens of Egypt to rescind the injustice that was inflicted” on me. but I refused. because he was denied his medicine. which exonerated all defendants and chastised the government’s action. Dr. about which he said in his article that “it would be no exaggeration if we were to associate it with Egypt. It is possible that the campaign that was launched by the Egyptian newspapers pleading for my exoneration had its effect on this decision. the former minister of irrigation and water resources. Muharram’s article not only to express my thanks to him but also to note that he was the only member of the profession I had served who rose to my defense. The case of ‘Abd al-Salam al-Zayyat. The article and the title prompted me to send to the magazine a comment which was published on August 2. with which my name was associated. Immediately after this incident the new president decided to release all the political prisoners and to meet them in his office. The eminent commentator Ahmad Baha’ al-Din penned two consecutive columns in al-Ahram newspaper about my case. ‘Utayfi informed me that all was clear for me to go back home and that the Egyptian authorities would welcome my homecoming. The detainees left the jail to the presidential palace directly. I thought that this verdict would exonerate me too but Dr.

I spent the first year of my new life in the United States trying to reorganize my life and to look for a job that could keep me afloat. The minister of the interior assured me that the government had nothing against me and that the late president himself. As the plane landed in Cairo airport we were whisked out of the plane and a special car took us to the VIP lounge where a ministry of the interior representative took our passports to stamp them while we waited in the lounge. must have ordered the inclusion of my name on the list. There we found many of our friends and members of our families who came to welcome us back home. No one from Egypt or any of the Arab countries came forth to offer me a consulting job. Texas. The job was temporary but it gave me a breathing space to find a place for myself in the world of consulting. Southern Methodist University. Neither did I hear from my colleagues who occupied some of the highest positions in the United Nations and other international organizations. Dallas. she did what she could to mend them. Before my connection with Egypt was resumed. The following morning I met the prime minister and the minister of the interior. My wife Wadad had gone once before me during the summer to look into our affairs. Deputies representing the prime minister and the minister of the interior were also present. which were utterly disrupted. Now both Wadad and I were on the plane heading for Cairo. who greeted me warmly. I could not find out from them the reason my name had appeared on the list. During these difficult days I thought of selling my library that I had left behind in Cairo. I advertised that intention in one of the scientific MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN | 205 . which is considered by all earth science workers throughout the world as the definitive work on the subject. especially after receiving a message from my sister that the library was getting dusty and was being attacked by mites. The first six months were spent in the Institute of Earth and Man. for reasons that were not obvious to him. which agreed to change my schedule and to take me back during that semester. where experts were recruited from all over the world to carry out most of their work.” I received with joy the news that I would be able to go back to Egypt.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 205 Rushdi Said is best known for his well-known book The Geology of Egypt.

if not all. My farm in Kharga oasis was on the verge of being looted had it not been for the group of German scientists who had taken over the work on the geological map of Egypt project. On the other hand. I soon regained the editorship of the rewriting of my book The Geology of Egypt and became a consultant to the project of the new geological map of 206 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . During this crisis I saw human beings at their worst and also at their best. Several offers came from foreign institutions. After a few months in the States several retainer jobs were offered to me and I started to make a name in the consulting world. The reestablishment of my Egyptian connection gave me further support. Before the arrival of the German expedition I had tried to find someone who would take care of the farm and the house to no avail. Most. intrigue against me in order to get the consulting jobs that I had. I came across the clerk in the bank I was dealing with who stopped the payment of a check that I gave to my sister because he had read my name in the newspapers in the infamous list that the government wanted to “safeguard” the country from. there were those gallant people who did not hesitate to come to my help. Some journalists who knew my position on many issues and who had frequently written about me favorably and with great enthusiasm turned around and repeated the accusations that the infamous minister of the interior who prepared the list of detainees was circulating against me. I also saw some of my former students. I chose from among them a research group that formed the core of African studies in the Technical University of Berlin. they rented the house on the farm to be a base for their work in the desert. The manager of the bank rescinded the decision of the clerk and reprimanded him. whose careers I was instrumental in advancing. In 1983 they agreed to house it in one place in their department. They were familiar with my work and had been influenced by it. people wanted to avoid having any dealings with me. Not one offer came from Egypt or from any of the students who knew the library and had made use of it in their research.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 206 journals. There was that noble stand of the hundreds of intellectuals who stood by me and fearlessly expressed their support.

the former head of the Conoco oil company in Egypt. The rewriting of my book took close to seven years and was finished in 1990. especially in devising balanced solutions that maintained both the interests of his company and those of Egypt. and he arranged a trip for the petroleum geologists working in Libya to visit Egypt to examine some of the geological sections that were described in the book. But when we broke the news to them. New World During the year that followed the appearance of my name in that infamous list my wife and I made every effort to adapt our ways to living in the United States. He worked as a geologist for oil companies that were active in the Middle East for over thirty years. to whom I dedicated the book in acknowledgment of his effort in bringing the project to fruition and in affording me the opportunity to devote my time to its writing. They had no intention of staying in the United States and had repeatedly made that clear to us. Since that time I have maintained a close relationship with Coy. I have great admiration for his administrative abilities.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 207 Egypt. we were surprised that they welcomed our decision. Apparently he was impressed with the work. whose supervision had been given to the German scientists. Coy is truly a unique person. Balkema in Holland published the resulting new edition. who were planning to go back to Egypt as soon as they finished their residencies. The credit for the publication of that book goes to my friend Coy H. which we had by then decided to make our new home. We therefore went ahead and formalized our residency papers and started preparing the home that we had earlier bought for the use of our daugh- NEW WORLD | 207 . Squyres. the country he loves. who were from the Technical University of Berlin. We hesitated to break the news of this decision to our children. He asked me to lead the group of geologists to some of these sections. In 1962 he was in Libya when The Geology of Egypt was published. They told us that they had changed their minds because of what had happened to me. most of those years were spent in Egypt.

which is tucked in the woods. For this purpose we kept an apartment for our use in the district of Maadi in Cairo where we had lived for many years. Despite the fact that both my wife and I knew the United States and were full of admiration for its achievements and way of life. longer than any other house that we have lived in. The extensive travel and pressing deadlines that these jobs required left little 208 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . It stands in contrast to the smaller towns. Our financial situation improved over the course of a few months after our decision to stay. which we have frequently used to host many of our guests who have come to visit us during the twenty-two year period we have occupied the house. now that she had left the Washington area to accompany her husband who had been accepted in the University of Connecticut to complete his studies in dentistry. area on the east coast of the United States reduced the travel time to Egypt. area ever since. For the first ten years of my stay in the United States my time was fully occupied with the many consulting jobs that I had to attend to. which enabled us to spend most of the winter season in Egypt.C. We love the house. We have lived in that house in the outskirts of the Washington. We were glad that our relationship with Egypt had been straightened up and that I had regained some of my old consulting work. it is cosmopolitan and frequently visited. It is minutes away from the capital beltway and sits on two-thirds of an acre of land.C. where the atmosphere is provincial and life is unexciting. We found living in that city convenient and pleasant. the country where we had spent the greater part of our lives and the place that had made the subject of my research and studies.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 208 ter and her husband to be our home. these had taken me to every corner of it and had made me aware of its potential. I was retained by some oil companies and received several consulting contracts. Our decision to make the United States our home required us to make a lot of adjustments. D. In addition to its being the home of my wife’s brother. D. we missed Egypt. It has an independent suite. The location of our new home in the Washington. It is contemporary in style with ample glass windows.

The warm reception I received and the sympathy and support of people from all walks of life have washed out any bitterness that I might have harbored. this helped me to pursue and maintain an extensive database on it. They were the odds and ends of a generation of young and bright intellectuals who were lured by the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. but also because of the relaxed and pleasant atmosphere in which it was carried out. That I was not able to do until I reached the age of seventy-three. In the United States I made new friendships with a group of Egyptians who had preceded me in making the States their home and who were still keeping their Egyptian connections. Among these new friends were poets. Nevertheless. That atmosphere has pervaded my life ever since I became free to visit Egypt after the September 1981 ordeal. thanks to my friend Coy H. It also kept me in close touch with the local and international scientists who were working on Egypt’s geology. and men and women of letters. At that time the United States was seeking talent to help build its scientific base during the years of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. This wave was totally different from that which started to come to the States from the mid 1980s. A good part of my consulting work was done in Egypt and Germany. This was one of my most enjoyable assignments not only because it kept me abreast of the developments in the field. Squyres who made this possible by arranging my Berlin connection and by giving back to me the task of rewriting of my book on the geology of Egypt. I had to carry out this work not only to provide a decent living but also to make sure that I completed the required years of work and paid enough taxes to the United States treasury so that I could lay claim to social security benefits. I spent a large amount of my time in Egypt and became fully immersed in its affairs. and to travel throughout its deserts as frequently as I deemed necessary. This new wave of immigrants NEW WORLD | 209 . where I became a consultant to the project of the new geological map of Egypt. and in particular to the medical care for senior citizens that goes with them. to keep an office there. This task gave me the opportunity to visit Egypt regularly. scientists. During these two decades a wave of distinguished immigrants reached the shores of the United States.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 209 spare time for me.

That force was brought then from Africa through the slave trade and from Europe and the Far East through the mass immigration of the poor. the United States has a surplus of well-trained scientists and engineers that it wants to send to other countries. Naturally the similarity between the two periods relates only to the composition of the labor force. The great advances it has made during the past twenty years in the fields of science and technology have increased its confidence in its institutions of learning. construction. which it is now assured can provide it with all the talent it needs. mining. The composition of the labor force in the United States today is similar to that which prevailed during the country’s formative years when its economy was expanding and was in need of a workforce to handle the hard jobs of agriculture. The majority of the Egyptian-American community belongs to the new wave of immigrants. D. It is difficult to reach this new wave of EgyptianAmerican immigrants outside the religious institutions to which they belong. from among their poor and uneducated. The religious institution plays a central role in the life of the new immigrants. area cannot fail to see that all work related to house cleaning. garbage collection. It is equally difficult to arouse their interest in the public life of their new country.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 210 came mostly from third world countries. It is their refuge and the place where they find comfort and support when they face a problem or want to shelter their children from the easily accessible excesses that the new society offers. Anyone living in the Washington. In fact. who were given an advantage in the new immigration laws or who were allowed to enter the country illegally with the tacit approval of the authorities.C. The members of this wave are busy eking out a living and adapting to the new ways that they had come to live with and which many find difficult to accept. No wonder that the Egyptian-American community 210 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . The United States at present has no great interest in attracting talent. and other manual labor is being done by this wave of new immigrants. and construction. the conditions of today’s working masses are considerably better. They had the muscles that were required to perform the mean work that the expanding economy of the United States was in need of and that no one wanted to do. gardening.

These institutions are totally politicized and their studies are usually conducted with the subtle aim of proving that a stable and peaceful Middle East can only be attained under the hegemony of a powerful Israel. The few Egyptian-Americans who are still interested in the affairs of their old country find themselves in the difficult situation of reconciling the policies of their new home country toward the Middle East and the interests of their old country. The alternative idea of working toward a Middle East in which Israel would develop into another Levantine country living in peace with its neighbors in a nuclear-free region is a hard sell and is considered impractical. developing any weapons. as well as with a number of workers in international organizations that are located in Washington. They have not yet developed the political or financial clout to change that policy or to have an impact on it. or having a missile system beyond a certain range. It has also failed to have any presence in any of the major Arab-American organizations. The affairs of Egypt make the subject of a good part of our conversation. To attain that goal all Middle Eastern countries have been prevented from establishing a strong army. The majority were established during World War II or in its wake during the Cold War that raged NEW WORLD | 211 .Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 211 has failed so far to build a single viable association or gathering that could bring its members together even on the local level. We usually meet either in my home or in the cozy Zorba café in downtown Washington. They also have found out that the maze of think tanks and university departments that deal with Middle Eastern studies cannot be taken as neutral and objective sources of information or of an analysis of the events of that region. They have to change their ways to accept Israel in their midst even if that country continues to maintain a strong army and hold its frightful arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Most if not all of these think tanks and the university departments of Middle Eastern studies are relatively new. Most of the gatherings of Egyptian-Americans at present are made up of a group of friends who share similar views and have common interests. In my case I have found joy and satisfaction in the company of some members of the older wave of Egyptian-American immigrants.

nonintrusive. I joined it as a boy and remained a member of it until my early youth. and conducive to bringing about the best of one’s talents. all the Americans I came across in that association were kind. which were extremely nationalistic. In fact. I do not remember that any of the Americans who were running it ever attempted to change my political views. Anyone who is remotely familiar with the history of these missions knows that they were established by highly 212 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . Among the many other institutions that were built by these early missions was the YMCA. or to talk to me about my religious beliefs. providing the region with the same services they had always advanced with compassion. idealistically motivated Americans. the Tanta hospital. Istanbul. I found the atmosphere in the association liberal. My mother was one of many who had the chance to receive her education through these schools. They established several institutions in the fields of education and health that were manned by young. These latter schools pioneered in women’s education. I benefited greatly from its services as I have already explained in an earlier chapter. understanding. and the mission schools in Cairo and Asyut. compassionate. I know that many will not share with me my views about the positive impact of these early missions on the life of Egypt because of what they have been used to hearing about their presumed role in supporting the imperialist powers or in contributing to the missionary work of proselytizing Muslims to Christianity or orthodox Copts to Protestantism. which it had always considered its own sphere of influence. Among the institutions that are still standing to this day are the American universities in Beirut. and Cairo. Some of these institutions are still standing today. at least in the case of the American missions. All these are judgments that are not validated by the facts. which was founded in Cairo in the early years of the twentieth century.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 212 between the western powers under the leadership of the United States and the Soviet Union. Prior to World War II the American presence in the Middle East was limited to the small church missions that were sent to the region for humanitarian purposes. and willing to go out of their way to help others. Before that time the United States had little interest in the Middle East or any other region outside the western hemisphere.

our eldest son.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 213 motivated and idealistically driven religious individuals who made their decisions to work overseas because of their urge to alleviate suffering and serve humanity. into the hands of a partisan group of ideologues who are leaving little place for anyone else with a different point of view. these institutions have fared very well indeed. got married to Sue. the English girl he had met in Cairo years before and who had joined him in the States. When he finished his residency in internal medicine. their work. he decided to take a job in Munising. acting as a bridge between the Egyptian and American cultures. Michigan. a little town in Upper Peninsula. At that time the town was sorely in need of medical doctors and the offer that was given to him was so enticing that he decided to accept it despite the harsh weather and remoteness of the area. many of whom have found it expedient to follow the lead of these partisans. Whereas I was still closely tied to Egypt. Kareem made a name for himself and NEW WORLD | 213 . is totally different. Kareem. their situation today is completely different. Whatever the case of these institutions may have been in the past. In so doing they alienated themselves from the pulse and interests of their old country. on Lake Superior. and the responsibilities that came with them made their contact with Egypt less than what they would have loved to see developing. Those that were able to survive and are still working in Egypt to this day were able to do so because they avoided being totally politicized and attempted to strike a middle of the road course. Taking into account the tense atmosphere that has pervaded Egyptian-American relations through most of the years of the past half a century. their careers. Looking at it twenty years later that decision was wise. my two children pursued a life that made their attachment to Egypt more casual. This situation is affecting the EgyptianAmericans working in these institutions. Within two to three years of our stay in the States our two children finished their studies and embarked on their careers. on the other hand. for the most part. They have been wholly politicized and their leadership has fallen. The situation of the Middle East institutions in the United States. Although both carry fond memories of Egypt and enjoy their occasional visits to it.

Nadia. 17. 12.C. Adam. Sameh and Sawsan bought a large and beautiful house in the Great Falls area overlooking the Potomac River. Sawsan followed him and left her residency in Fairfax Hospital in the Washington area to seek a new residency in anesthesiology. who is 15. Nefret. her classmate and friend in September 1981.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 214 became a very successful doctor. and Mariam. His place in the life of the community can be gauged by the one-column obituary that the Washington Post 214 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . Sawsan tried her hand in joining a group of anesthesiologists but found the job demanding and unfit for a mother and decided to join one of the health maintenance organizations. and a son. 18. He suffered from a blood cancer that debilitated him the last two years of his life. where he now owns a beautiful second home. Kareem and Sue have two daughters. they came back to stay with us in the home that we had bought a few months earlier. 16. when we used to visit him. Sameh left a great vacuum in the lives of many people. Their stay was temporary until Sameh found a place in the University of Connecticut school of dentistry to pursue his graduate studies. and was followed by a reception in the grand hall of the Cosmos Club of which I had become a member. and Isis. During the summer months. The marriage ceremony took place in the Coptic church in Washington. and one son. 14. They had two daughters. Our daughter Sawsan got married to Sameh. He often supplied us with fresh fish for our meals when we accompanied him on his frequent fishing trips to the shores of the Atlantic or Florida. Kareem developed an interest in fishing and became an excellent fisherman. the weather becomes amiable and the whole Upper Peninsula with its studded lakes and open spaces turns into a very beautiful and enchanting place. Sameh opened up an office for oral surgery that soon became one of the best known and most successful offices in this specialty in the area. When they finished their residencies three years later they returned to the Washington area to practice their professions. Ramsey. Tragically Sawsan and the entire family were traumatized by the untimely death of Sameh at the age of 43 in December 1998. where hours of work were pretty much set in advance. D. After a short honeymoon. He has a beautiful house overlooking Lake Superior.

they have failed to convey that fondness to their children. My life in the United States allowed me to view Egypt from a distance and to contemplate its affairs and prospects. have very fond memories of their lives in Egypt. In 1996 I decided to assemble some of the most salient articles in a book that was published by Dar al-Hilal in 1996 under the title Fact and Fiction About Present-day Egypt. I sent some of my comments and analyses to several Egyptian newspapers and magazines. Her brother and sister followed her and joined these groups. I followed its news closely. She insisted on doing them all by herself and to be both the mother and the father of her three children. In contrast to our children. The lead article of the book carried the same title. Many of the articles aroused great interest and were the subject of many comments.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 215 devoted to him. where they were published. The article dealt with the skewed income distribution in Egypt. Only time will tell whether the aggressive plan that the church is pursuing at present to keep the younger generations within its bounds will succeed. There they found the teachings and activities more in tune with the pace of life in the United States. It surely represents a challenge to that church. left that church to join other Christian groups not far from where she lives. They have even failed to get them to join the Coptic Church. Whether the case of my grandchildren can be taken as an indication of what will happen to the younger generation of Copts who were born in the United States remains a moot question. I wrote it for al-Hilal literary magazine in January 1995. and enjoy their visits to it enormously and to the full. None of our grandchildren speaks Arabic and none is remotely interested in Egyptian affairs or culture. Nefret. our contacts with Egypt remained strong. His death left Sawsan broken in heart and with new responsibilities that she has faced with courage and determination. Some one hundred and seventy articles appeared in print over the past twenty years. despite the fact that they were baptized in it. its NEW WORLD | 215 . Although both of their parents love Egypt. My consulting work as well as my teaching assignments in both Berlin Technical University and in the Southern Methodist University were all about Egypt. the most spiritually oriented of my grandchildren.

I estimated that close to fifteen percent of the population gets more than seventy-five percent of the country’s gross national income. the bulk of the people. It widens the streets for their cars and reserves the Mediterranean coast to the west of Alexandria for their exclusive use. In contrast. This segment does not participate in public life. It has no access to people in power or to the decision makers. It is the sole user of credit cards and all bank accounts above fifteen thousand pounds a year. It was described by a leading journalist in the London Arabic daily al-Hayat as “a photographic image of today’s Egypt. which I dubbed the floating segment. gets no more than twenty-five percent of the wealth of the nation. representing less than two percent of the entire population. It owns all the private cars and close to eighty percent of all telephones. It represents the segment with a disposable income to which all businessmen appeal in order to sell their goods and services. Its members are the ones whose names appear in the social pages of the newspapers when they get married or have a newly born child and in the obituary pages when they die.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 216 conclusions were based on day-to-day observations and on patterns of consumption rather on the government issued statistics that I considered unreliable.” In addition to this lead article the book contained several other articles that were concerned with the judicial use of the natural and human 216 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . The upper twelve percent of this segment. This segment of the population. representing close to eighty-five percent of the population. Its children go to inferior schools from which many drop out and join the labor force under harsh conditions where they are usually underpaid and abused. lays its hands on forty percent of the wealth of the nation. It lives in unhealthy and overcrowded houses in districts that are deprived of the most basic services. Members belonging to this segment are not allowed to assemble in any way and they are not allowed access to any channel where they can express their views. This article aroused great interest when it was first published and was the subject of many comments. is the one that has the sole use of all the modern gadgets. building villas for their summer vacations to which it happily extends water and power lines for hundreds of kilometers. This is the privileged class that the government is mobilized to serve.

I wrote the book in simple language so that I could share with the common reader some of the exciting conclusions that I had reached with regard to the origin of the river. It provides its fellows with comfortable accommodation and food that is served in a gourmet restaurant under the supervision of a Parisian chef. and the impact that these fluctuations have left on the country. the institute has a reasonable library with access to European libraries through the inter-library loan system.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 217 resources of the country. which was finished and published in 1993 by the Elsevier publishing company. Cairo. and the many changes it has assumed until it reached its present-day shape. My scientific writing. I translated the book into Arabic and it was published by Dar al-Hilal. It is now in its second printing. when I received an invitation from the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin to spend that academic year as a fellow. the two subjects about which I had spent a lifetime amassing a large amount of information. The institute invites every year forty scholars from all over the world to conduct research on any subject of their choice. The institute lies in a beautiful spot in Berlin in the trendy Grune Wald district. in the same year. The book was highly acclaimed and obtained the Cairo Book Fair prize in 1996 for the best work of the year. The book then traced the history of the utilization of the waters of the river by humankind since the first settlements along its banks several hundreds of thousands of years ago. In addition to secretarial help. During this long time NEW WORLD | 217 . An opportunity availed itself in the academic year 1989/1990. During that year the fellows are free of any obligation except for giving one lecture to their colleagues at any time during the year to outline the nature of their research and the results they have reached. its beginnings. Throughout my career I had wanted to write two scientific books. Among the other exciting results that were dealt with in the book were the fluctuations in the amount of water that the river has carried throughout its history. which I had always looked forward to. one on the river Nile and the other on the Egyptian desert. had to wait until I could find the time to devote to it. especially since the rise of the ancient Egyptian civilization. I devoted all my time during that year to writing a book on the river Nile.

Most of those who wrote about my works did not know me personally. to an energy crisis. which thus seems to have been due. Until that age the energy needs of Egypt were small and were provided by nature or by a small supply of wood that was supplemented by the importation of additional quantities from the Levant.1997). My book on the Nile was chosen as the best work in the field of science by the Cairo Book Fair in 1993. the Nobel laureate and the master of the Egyptian novel.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 218 the river’s environment changed and humans evolved from being hunter gatherers. The delay in ancient Egypt’s inauguration into the iron age speeded its fall. The final chapter of the book dealt with the future uses of the waters of the river and the problems that its riparian states will face in the future as their water needs increase. who showered me with their praise and commented about my articles with great admiration. It is now in its third printing. I often wonder what it was that could have impressed them that much. The book was hard work for me for it touched on many subjects that were not in my field of specialization. However. harnessing the river until they were able to fully control it by the building of the Aswan High Dam. to fishing. I started to research that book during another stint at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin in 1995. they included practically every writer who had started his or her literary career in the 1960s. in large measure. iron was a high-temperature industry that required large quantities of wood. which ancient Egypt did not have and could not acquire. Nagib Mahfouz. to farming using the natural phenomenon of the flood. It seems that the books and articles that I wrote left an impact on the younger generation of writers and intellectuals in Egypt. The other book that I had hoped to write on the deserts of Egypt never materialized. may have partially answered that question 218 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . The result of that research appeared in a long article in the journal Sahara (volume 9. when the intriguing subject of the role that the desert had played in the rise and fall of ancient Egypt diverted me. and I needed to familiarize myself with their basic principles and their latest results. In this article I argued that the desert furnished Egypt with most of the raw materials that had kept it abreast with every technological innovation preceding the onset of the Iron Age.

that he devoted to my lengthy interview with Tareq Habib on his program Autograph. I was among those who were summoned and was blamed. Dr. ‘Abdallah to pay tribute to me until he himself told me many years later that he was distressed to know from my article in al-Hilal magazine in 1991. when Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser handed me the Science and Arts Medal (first class). Mahfouz wrote that he had been enthralled with what I had said about my scientific work so much so that he was annoyed by the many musical interludes that had “encroached upon his glowing feeling of delight in science and what it stirs in the imagination and brings to the spirit. 1976.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 219 in his column in al-Ahram newspaper of June 7. Ahmad ‘Abdallah. on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of my graduation from college. for not having “brought up the students well. Until that time I had no personal knowledge of Ahmad ‘Abdallah. he wrote that it “had allowed him to become aware of the work of a scientist who is known outside his country more than in his own and of his dreams for his country’s economic and social progress. the president dropped me from the delegation that went to negotiate with the students. The center decided to offer me a “popular honorary recognition” for the services I have rendered to Egypt.” One of the earliest acts of appreciation of my work came in 1994 from al-Gil Center for Social Studies of Youth. President Sadat had summoned some members of parliament to discuss the students’ insurgency and to give them instructions before sending them to the university to negotiate with the students. which was aired on Egyptian television. that I had not received a single recognition from Egypt since 1962. which is run by the leader of the early 1970s university revolt Dr. As time went by more people and institutions came to recognize and appreciate the contributions I have made. The geo- NEW WORLD | 219 . ‘Abdallah decided to remedy this situation.” When I expressed my sympathy with the students. On the occasion of my eightieth birthday al-Hilal magazine devoted an entire section of its May 2000 issue to write about my contributions in science and public life. I had only heard about him during the university’s student revolt of 1971/1972.” As to the program itself. I did not know what exactly had prompted Dr. as a professor in the university.

I was granted the Pioneer Award by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 2003. and for the excellence of research work that inspired generations of students and scientists.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 220 logical survey of Egypt celebrated my birthday by holding a special meeting that was attended by many of my former students and colleagues. Among its earlier recipients were such illustrious names as Schweinfurth. a medal which is awarded to explorers. and others. Scott. organized a reception for me that was attended by the student body and the staff and in which I was showered with praise by professors and students whom I had never met before and who pointed out how much my works had changed their lives. Peary.” The same year I was awarded the Nachtigal Medal from the Geographical Society of Germany. The recognition that I received from the scientific institutions abroad was overwhelming.” Three years later I was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin for “transforming the geological survey of Egypt into an internationally recognized institution of applied research. The following year I was given a citation from the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man. I was elected an honorary fellow of the Geological Society of Africa in 1982. which opened up vast areas of application in the field of petroleum geology. ‘Atif Kishk. for my efforts “to improve science in the Middle East. Southern Methodist University. The citation mentioned that the award was bestowed upon me for my “contributions to the geology of Egypt and the Middle East.” 220 | MY LIFE AS AN EGYPTIAN AMERICAN . professor of soil science at the faculty of agriculture. Finally. In 1989 I was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America and in 1994 I became a fellow of the Third World Academy of Science. on the initiative of Dr. Schackleton. AlMinya university.

the occupying power. made a uni1922 Inlateral declaration granting Egypt limited sovereignty. constitution was drafted along the European model. Readers who are not familiar with recent Egyptian history may find it useful to refer to it to follow the sequence of events mentioned in this autobiography.” in which the right of all nations to independence was specifically mentioned. in 1923 The which Egypt became a secular state. The resultant peace treaty that was signed in Versailles in 1919 did not heed the president of the United States Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points. However CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS | 221 . The revolution began after the delegation (wafd in Arabic) that went to Paris to lobby for the independence of Egypt failed to achieve its goals at the peace conference held at the end of World War I. The Wafd party boycotted the drafting committee and was not represented on it.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 221 Chronological Table of Events Below is a chronological table of some of the major events frequently referred to in this autobiography. The sultan became a king and Egypt was allowed to have a constitution and its own administration. Egyptian revolution for independence led by the Wafd 1919 The party under the leadership of Sa‘d Zaghlul. February Great Britain.

and Great Britain signed a treaty whereby Egypt was 1936 Egypt granted sovereignty and Britain was allowed to keep a base in the Suez canal area and the right to defend Egypt from any outside attack to which it may be exposed. The constitution remained in force. No sooner would the Wafd party take the reins of government than the king would use his prerogative of dissolving parliament and dismissing the government. During the thirty years in which the 1923 constitution was in force. German army invaded Egypt from Libya. except for a short time in the 1930s. Their presence caused enormous disruption in the economic and social fabric of the country. The war years also saw the rise of a new bourgeoisie that made its wealth from providing the services needed for the armies that were stationed in Egypt. 222 | CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS . the Wafd party was not allowed to govern except for a few years. until it was cancelled by the officers’ revolution in 1952. wages did not keep pace with prices. War II. There was a severe shortage in housing and the prices of commodities and services increased greatly. leading to the appearance of corruption on a large scale. Egypt took a neutral position but 1939–1945 World became the theater of military action when the Italian and German armies attacked it from their bases in Libya. Hundreds of thousands of troops of the allied armies came to the defense of Egypt. Zaghlul. It routed the 1942 The allied army and chased it along the coastal road to al-Alamein. Immigration to the cities increased and Cairo became a large metropolis. It won a sweeping majority.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 222 it accepted the constitution as drafted and entered the first elections that were held one year later. despite the fact that it won the overwhelming majority of the seats of parliament in every election that took place during that period. died and Mustafa 1927 Sa‘d al-Nahas succeeded to the leadership of the Wafd party. the leader of the 1919 revolution.

When the king hesitated. Among the first decisions that the council took was the issuing of land reform legislation in which land ownership was limited to a maximum of one hundred feddans (acres) per owner. The resolution was not accepted by the Arabs and a war between the Jewish settlers and the Arab armies raged. the leader of the Wafd party. years that followed the defeat of the Egyptian army in 1952 The 1948 were years of anger and unrest culminating in the burning of Cairo in January 1952. the 1953 Royalty senior military officer and figurehead of the revolution was appointed president of the new republic. a group of young army officers took over power. Six months later. CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS | 223 . The Arab armies were defeated and Israel grabbed more land than was allotted to it by the United Nations resolution. who abhorred the intervention of the British in Egyptian affairs. his palace was surrounded by British troops and the king was left with the choice either to appoint Mustafa al-Nahas. forcing the king to abdicate and ushering in a new phase in the history of Egypt. on July 23. The appointment was met with the greatest relief among ordinary people but caused anger among many young men. The defeat caused furor in the Arab world and especially in Egypt. The king was asked to bring back to power the popular Wafd party. especially among the youth. and all political parties banned. which saw mounting anti-foreign feeling and the rise in popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood. in Egypt was abolished and Muhammad Nagib. All executive and legislative powers were vested in a revolutionary council made up of about ten army officers. year saw the birth of the state of Israel in accordance 1948 That with a United Nations resolution that gave the Jews part of Palestine. as prime minister or abdicate. Parliament was dissolved. the constitution abolished. He appointed al-Nahas. This imminent threat caused the British to ask King Faruq to appoint a government that could bring stability to Egypt and cope with the threat to which Egypt was exposed.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 223 some fifty kilometers to the west of Alexandria.

which was under Egyptian control. In a blitz movement Israel took the Gaza strip. Egypt went to the Soviet Union. During this year the new regime purged the universities of their liberal and left-wing professors. World Bank withdrew its offer to finance the Aswan 1956 The High Dam. routing the Egyptian army. an act that was not accepted by Britain and France. a measure that was dubbed “the universities’ massacre. Indonesia. When the United States hesitated. On October 29 the two countries. British and French interests in Egypt were sequestrated or nationalized. Nasser came out of the crisis victorious and became a national hero who had stood up against the designs of major 224 | CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS . and Indonesia in founding the 1955 Egypt non-aligned movement at a meeting that was held in Bandung.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 224 year witnessed a schism in the revolutionary council that 1954 That resulted in the removal of Muhammad Nagib and the accession of Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser to the office of president of the republic. Yugoslavia. which supplied it with the necessary armaments. Israel was also forced to withdraw to its borders.” joined India. and the entire peninsula of Sinai. which had been under Egyptian control since 1948. together with Israel. The British and French landed in Port Said and were pushing south toward Suez when they were forced to stop their advance and to withdraw from the lands they had occupied in response to a United Nations resolution that was adopted unanimously and by the United States and the Soviet Union. The British withdrawal also involved the withdrawal of the token force that had been stationed in the Suez canal in accordance with the 1954 treaty. In retaliation Egypt nationalized the Suez canal. The embarrassed military regime in Cairo asked the United States to supply the Egyptian army with arms. which was to be built to the south of Aswan for the storage of the waters of the Nile. A treaty with the British was signed in which Egypt gained its independence and Britain was allowed to keep a token force in the Suez canal zone. waged a war against Egypt. During that year Israel conducted a raid on the Gaza strip. thus making Egypt fully independent.

manufacturing. It established a party. It nationalized the banks. The charter reiterated the identity of Egypt as part of the Arab world.” In 1961 that union was dissolved. fertilizer. At the end of the five years the gross national product generated from industry exceeded that from agriculture for the first time in the history of Egypt. which had supported Egypt’s fight. and textile industries. Arab national zeal that the 1956 war engendered resulted 1961 The in the rise of a movement that called for Arab unity. Syria was the first Arab country to propose a union with Egypt. that was supposed to be an umbrella organization for all the “working forces” of society.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 225 imperialist powers. ambitious industrial five-year plan was launched. food. dissolution of the union with Syria prompted the leader1964 The ship of the revolution to reach out to the people and build a participatory democracy. During CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS | 225 . The charter emphasized the alliance of the working forces of the country in a single party which was dubbed the Arab Socialist Union. reducing it to a maximum of fifty feddans per owner rather than one hundred feddans as had been originally stipulated in the agrarian reform act of 1952. During that year Egypt adopted a socialist stance. It also conducted elections for a parliament. a variety of metallurgical. the Arab Socialist Union. The plan 1960 An included the building of a steel mill. and other enterprises that employed more than fifty workers. principles that revolutionary regime had been agitating 1962 The for were promulgated in a charter that was adopted by a convention of appointed delegates of the working forces of the country. He also became a hero in the Arab world. In 1958 that union became effective and the two countries abolished their names and founded “The United Arab Republic. and a naval base. It also limited further the ownership of agricultural land. the important role of the public sector and the adoption of a socialist program.

1967 On In six days it routed the armies of the three countries and occupied great chunks of their lands. and recruited university graduates for its ranks. Syria. Sudan. The new president continued to follow Nasser’s steps in engaging the Israeli army in a war of attrition and in the preparations for a final war to reclaim the lands that had been lost. That resolution was vague enough to have various interpretations and has not been implemented to this day (2004). and Jordan. he started sending signals of his willingness to see a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. They also decided to sever diplomatic relations with the United States. A popular show of support made him return to his post. but these were not taken seriously. demanding reform and a firm date for the launching of the war of liberation. University students rebelled. died on September 30 and Anwar Sadat succeeded 1970 Nasser him in the presidency. The United Nations resolution that ended the hostilities stopped short of asking Israel to withdraw to its borders. the Arabs refused to accept defeat and vowed. In the meantime. He concentrated his efforts primarily on the rebuilding of the army. June 5 Israel waged a war against Egypt. 226 | CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS . where he decided to revamp his policies and to start anew. in a meeting of the heads of their states in Khartoum. Three days after the defeat of Egypt in the 1967 war. Nasser went on Egyptian television to declare his responsibility for the defeat and to announce his resignation from his post. After long negotiations a resolution was passed by the United Nations in November 1967 recognizing the inadmissibility of the occupation of territories by force. the West Bank and Jerusalem from Jordan. In the meantime. and the peninsula of Sinai from Egypt. Egypt continued to engage the Israeli army in a war of attrition.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 226 that year Egypt and the Soviet Union celebrated the diversion of the course of the river Nile at Aswan in preparation for the building of the high dam that the Soviet Union had agreed to finance. He purged its old leadership. It took over the Golan Heights from Syria. introduced modern methods for its training. to continue the struggle to liberate their occupied lands.

The riots were so intense that the government had to cancel its decision with regard to the subsidies. which emphasized the role of the private sector and foreign investments in the development of the national economy. He developed what he called the “open door” policy. which suggested slashing the subsidies that the government placed on basic foods and commodities.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 227 Syria and Egypt waged war against Israel to lib1973 InerateOctober their occupied lands. He disbanded the socialist alliance and broke it up into right. He also opened up to the United States and resumed diplomatic relations with it. arrangements for disengagement were underway under the supervision of the United States. The visit was considered a betrayal by all Arab states. He visited Jerusalem and addressed the Knesset. which CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS | 227 . The parties were only allowed to be formed in accordance with a law that imposed many restrictions. to come back to their country. After sixteen days of hostilities. He invited the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Once that decision was declared. He started to forge a policy of his own away from Nasser’s legacy. The president decided to visit Israel and to seek peace with it. He attempted to build a popular base around a core of Islamic fanatics to advocate his new policies. forcing the president to seek help from the International Monetary Fund. The oil producing Arab states decided to join in and to stop their oil shipments to all countries considered sympathetic to Israel. new policies failed to alleviate the economic problems of 1977 The Egypt. and center platforms. Egypt considered the war a great victory that had brought back prestige to its armed forces. left. who had fled to Saudi Arabia during Nasser’s time. food riots took hold of the streets of Cairo and most other cities. The public sector was neglected. These platforms were the nuclei of a multiparty system. The Egyptian army succeeded in crossing the Suez Canal and in establishing a bridgehead in the Sinai peninsula. Sadat took credit for the successes achieved during 1974 President the war and became confident of his leadership.

One month later the president was assassinated while reviewing the armed forces celebrating the victory of the 1973 war. A list of 1981 President 1. The treaty and the policies of Sadat were criticized by many sectors of the society. and religious leaders (including the Coptic patriarch) were jailed. a treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel in which Israel vowed to give back Sinai to Egypt and Egypt vowed to normalize relations with Israel and to exchange diplomatic missions with it. a series of meetings between the Israelis and the 1979 After Egyptians in which the president of the United States Jimmy Carter was involved. leading journalists.Science and Politics in Egypt 4/10/04 0:00 Page 228 decided to sever their relations with Egypt and to transfer the Arab League from Cairo to Tunis. Sadat decided to put all his critics in jail. 228 | CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS . Hosni Mubarak became the president of the republic. Both the left and the right were opposed to his policies.500 personalities made up of former ministers.

171. 172. 53–57. 228 Constitution (1923) 17. 45. Lord 45 Faculty of Science. 83. 163–65. 126. 179. 41. 224 Fathi. 181. 51. 226 Berlin Technical University 180. 195. 194. 203. 38. 223. 185 food riots 1977 192–94. 67. 152–56. 42. 179 Arab Socialist Union (ASU) 132. 174. 37. 61. 25. 156. 22. 40. 133. 5. 168. 162. King 34. 70 al-‘Utayfi. 191. 207. 176. 64. 69. Cairo University 29. 219. 136–38. 199. 130 Harvard xi. 130. 221. 215 Cromer. 157. 125 Hawwara tribe 18 Haykal. 149. 159. 138. 40. 107. 122 Camp David accords 174. 41. 222 Constitution (1971) 127 Copts xv. 59. 227 Geological Society of Africa 220 Geological Society of America 220 Geological Survey of Egypt 81–123. 176. 141. 206. 58–72 Hamayoni firman 1856 18. 44. 168. Hassan 81. Gamal 128. 171. 225 | 229 . 55. 179 Arab–Israeli wars (1948) xvi. 53. 17. 167. 175. 74. 100. 4. Gamal 136. 154 Ibn Taymiya 112 Ikhwan al-Safa 36 Iltizam system 6 Industrialization program xiii. 212 Annals of the Geological Survey of Egypt 97. Faculty of Science. 58–72 Faruq. 200. 203. 162. 52. 152–62. 73. 142. 86. 224. 129. 220 Geology Department. 181. Cairo University 30. 70 Al-Ahram newpaper 128. 154. 105. 212 INDEX Cairo University 29. 204 American Association of Petroleum Geologists xii. 227 Arab Mining Company 176. 31. (1967) xiv. 224. 55. 60. 170. 64. 158. 47. 181. 226 Abu Tartur Phosphate Project 80. 170. 183. 108–13. 126. 177. 212. 195–97. 204 Alexandria University 59. 9. 164. 142. 220 American University in Cairo 56. 148. 215 Boys Department YMCA 24. 198. 223. Muhammad Hassanayn 128. xiv. 226. 147.Science and Politics index 3/10/04 23:57 Page 1 Index ‘Abd al-Nasser. 74. (1973) xiv. 69. 173. 175. 225 Aswan High Dam xiii. 202. 203. 218. 144. 101–05. 160. 185 ‘Ain Shams University 59. 18. 38. 169. 189. 57. 39. 129–33. 141. 161.

42. 149. 80. 135 230 remote sensing 118–20 Revolution (1919) xv.Science and Politics index 3/10/04 23:57 Page 2 Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin 217. 116–21 Kaolin deposit 99–101 Kharga Oasis 102. 43. 73–81 Mubarak. 218 Inter-Parliamentary Union 145–51 Isma‘il Kedive 6. 146 Taha Husayn 32. 29. Anwar 114. 60. 35. 223 | INDEX . 95. 198. 202 Shari‘a Islamic law 173–91 Shukri. Sa‘d 21. 170 Israel xvi. 200. Egyptian 39. 75. 36. 40. 228 Jizya tax 3 Joint Research Programs 64–68. 167 Red Sea Phosphate Co. 40. 189. 84. 222. 49. 32. 191–94. educator 24. 47. Salama 29. ‘Ali 106–09. 132–51. 182–90. 212. 78 religious right (see also Muslim Brotherhood) 31–33. 57 Suez War 1956 28. N. 42. ‘Aziz 71. 43. 146. 194. 136. 43. 226 Stetson. 191. 38. 226–28 Saudi Arabia 191. 31. 202. 178. 11. 206 Marxism 87. 96. 31–34. 25 Zaghlul. 40. 86. 138. 172 Southern Methodist University 180. 160. 105. 147. 2. 77. 224 Switzerland 2. 31. 211. 173. 52. 32. 175. 51. 140. 130. 223 Nachtigal Medal 220 Naguib Mahfouz 30. 222. 52. 196 Security apparatus (see also Mukhabarat)156–58.205. 67. 220 Soviet Union 82. 223 Nile 12. 175.M. 81 Musharrafa. 217. 105–08. 194. 30. 81 United States 53. 129. 199–212. 215. (1952) xvi. 151. 22. 88. 226. 40. 218 Nuclear Raw Materials 113–14 Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) 149. Mustafa 33. 225 Ras al-Barr 55. 161. 41. 133. 212. 228 Wafd Party 21. Hosni 203. 51. 140. 31. 162–64. 95. 34. 172. 193. 37–39. 223. 44. 30. 150 Pan-Arabism 174. 169. 197. 223 Wali. Henry 55. 60. 192. 43. 174. 174. 122. 151. 223 Sadat. 120. 106. 211. 172. 196. 59. 189. 151. 39. 192. 48. 73. 48. 49. 33. 54. 163 mining companies 71. 54. 35. 161 Wendorf. 218 al-Nahas. 21. 127. 30. 200 Musa. 81. 48. Ali Mustafa 48. 171. 165. 62. 228 Mukhabarat (Intelligence apparatus) 74. 33. 127. 142. 227. 189. 34. 59 Sidqi. 209. 62. 215. 222 Ya‘qub Fam. 61. 226. 59 Muslim Brotherhood 41. 221. 225 Parliament. 190–203. 75. 33. Fred 64–68 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 57 World War II xiii.

June 1899 The author’s father. 3 September 1926: Egyptian girls at Cairo railway station on their way to study in England. 1911 The cover of al-Musawwar magazine.Science and Politics illustrations 3/10/04 23:58 Page 1 The author’s mother (seated to the left of the headmistress) at her graduation from the American School at Azbakiya. the author’s sister In‘am stands fourth from the left in the front row . Cairo.

the author is third from the right in the back row . Faculty of Science. YMCA. 1937 Students and faculty of the Geology Department.Science and Politics illustrations 3/10/04 23:58 Page 2 Ya‘qub Fam. educator and head of the Boys’ Department. 1939. Egyptian University. bidding farewell to Professor Jean Cuvillier.

Massachusetts. Woods Hole. 1949 .Science and Politics illustrations 3/10/04 23:58 Page 3 Permit issued by Egyptian Intelligence to the author in 1941 to visit Gebel Muqattam on the outskirts of Cairo The class of the marine biological lab.

1957 At the Industrial Fair with Husayn al-Shaf‘i. 1951 23:58 Page 4 In the laboratory. Faculty of Science. minister of industry. former and future vice-president of the republic. Cairo University. 1969 .Science and Politics illustrations 3/10/04 In front of the Sphinx. and ‘Aziz Sidqi.

Abu Tartur plateau. Western Desert. Egypt. Western Desert.Science and Politics illustrations 3/10/04 23:58 Page 5 In front of the experimental mine. Egypt . 1971 At the end of the 1974 season at Bir Tarfawi.

1986 The author’s house in Kharga Oasis. 1978 . President of the Geographical Society of Germany. designed by Hassan Fathi. 1974.Science and Politics illustrations 3/10/04 23:58 Page 6 At the Interparliamentary Conference. with Gamal al-‘Utayfi With Coy Squyres at a reception in 1977 Professor Scholz. Tokyo. conferring the Nachtigal Medal.

1999 . Washington DC. with Fawzi Haykal (left) and Kamal al-Sawi after taking part in a demonstration in support of Palestine. Great Falls. 1996 Celebrating the author’s eightieth birthday. Virginia.Science and Politics illustrations 3/10/04 23:58 Page 7 Relaxing on the Congress lawn.

Abu al-Hasan. 2004 . 2003 With Mr. in front of the auditorium named after the author. head of the Geological Survey of Egypt.Science and Politics illustrations 3/10/04 23:58 Page 8 With Wadad.