Monday, November 5, 2012

'Abbas II ('Abbas Hilmi II)

ʿAbbas II, also called ʿAbbas Ḥilmi II (b. July 14, 1874, Alexandria, Egypt - d. December 20, 1944, Geneva, Switzerland), was the last khedive (viceroy) of Egypt, from January 8, 1892 to December 19, 1914, when British hegemony was established. His opposition to British power in Egypt made him prominent in the nationalist movement.

ʿAbbas became khedive following the sudden death of his father, Tawfiq Pasha, in 1892, while ʿAbbas was enrolled at the Theresianum in Vienna. At the beginning of his reign, ʿAbbas attempted to rule independently of Lord Cromer, the British agent and consul general in Egypt (1883–1907). Encouraged by popular discontent with the increasing British influence over Egypt and by the enthusiastic support of the nationalists, ʿAbbas appointed a prime minister who was well-known for his opposition to the British. When, in 1894, he criticized the military efficiency of the British troops, Lord Cromer took steps to curb the khedive’s independence of action.

After 1894, although ʿAbbas no longer headed the nationalist movement, he provided financial assistance to the pan-Islamic and anti-British daily newspaper Al-Muʿayyad (“The Supporter”). However, when, in 1906, the nationalists demanded constitutional government for Egypt, ʿAbbas, by then reconciled with the British, rejected their demands. The following year, he agreed to the formation of the National Party, headed by Mustafa Kamil, to counter the Ummah Party of the moderate nationalists, which was supported by the British. With the appointment of Lord Kitchener as consul general (1912–14), the leaders of the National Party were exiled or imprisoned, and ʿAbbas’ authority was curtailed.

At the beginning of World War I, ʿAbbas issued an appeal to the Egyptians and the Sudanese to support the Central Powers and to fight the British. On December 18, 1914, Britain declared Egypt its protectorate and deposed ʿAbbas the following day. His uncle Ḥusayn Kamil (reigned 1914–17) replaced him and assumed the title of sultan. In 1922, when Egypt was declared independent, ʿAbbas lost all rights to the throne. He passed the rest of his life in exile, mainly in Switzerland.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas II
'Abbas II of Egypt
'Abbas Hilmi II
'Abbas Hilmi II Bey
'Abbas Hilmi II Pasha
Hilmi, 'Abbas II

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