Cairo - 1952

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Britains Killed in Cairo Riots 1952

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Reports from Egypt say at least 20 people have been killed and hundreds injured in anti-British riots in Cairo. Initial figures suggest up to 17 British people may have been murdered or burnt to death during the trouble. About 200 people were injured and some 300 arrested. The rioting followed last week's disturbances in the Suez Canal zone. The Egyptian prime minister, Nahas Pasha, has called the troublemakers "traitors" who were attempting to overthrow the government by stirring up trouble with the British.
King Farouk has declared martial law in the capital. A dawn-to-dusk curfew has been imposed and police have been given orders to shoot on sight.
Egyptian troops in steel helmets and armed with guns have been deployed at all key points in Cairo. They are guarding the king's palace and the British and American embassies.

Most of the British casualties were elderly members of the exclusive Turf Club, which was almost totally destroyed in the riots. Many historic paintings of former members of the club were also lost.
Shepherds hotel - known to tourists all over the world - was badly damaged.

Anti-British riots

The rampaging crowds also burned and looted Barclays Bank, the largest British bank in Cairo.
Anti-British feeling has been running high. British troops patrolling the Suez Canal Zone have been coming under attack from rebel gunmen.
The final straw came last week when the Egyptian fighters shot dead an Irish-born nun after forcing their way into a convent.

The British troops reacted by seizing control of the town of Ismailia. More than 40 Egyptian police officers were killed in the attack.

The commander of the British forces, Lieutenant General Sir George Erskine, said the action had been necessary to prevent further attacks by terrorists on his soldiers.

The Egyptian government accused the British of "acts of war" and "not even observing the laws and customs of war" in the canal zone.


Below: Cairo Fire, January 1952

In 1952, officers in the Egyptian army overthrew the monarchy under King Farouk. Abandoning policies co-operative with European powers, the new government asserted an independent and Arab nationalist identity. This led to conflict with the European powers over the Suez Canal. Especially once Israel's port of Eilat was completed in the mid 50's, conflict also heated up over the only gateway to it, the Straits of Tiran. Egypt often interfered with Israeli shipping and shipping destined for Israel to varying degrees in both these waterways after 1949, in part depending on the international political situation at the time. Throughout this period, the Egyptian government, most notably President Gamal Abdel Nasser, continued to publicly incite hostility and violence against Israel. On August 31, 1955, Nasser announced that "there will be no peace on Israel's border because we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel's death."

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