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xiv                A BARREN PERIOD OF DRIFT                249
soldiers whilst peacefully assembled to assert their national rights.
The last and most serious of these riots, though it was not accompanied by looting, took place near Abdeen Palace on'November 16th, on the day of Sultan JFuad's return to the capital from his summer residence near Alexandria. The mob attacked and set fire to a police station close to the Palace and to another in the Muski, the old street well known to tourists which leads to the native bazaars. ^The Egyptian police did its best to hold its ground, but it was overpowered and British troops had to intervene. There were nearly a hundred killed and wounded amongst the rioters before they were finally dispersed. Yet on this as on other similar occasions the mob would in one place see red and break out into acts of brutal violence ; in another place, perhaps quite near by, it would good-humouredly refrain from molesting in any way the few Englishmen whom curiosity or business brought into contact with it. The Egyptian sometimes seems to be like a child, easily moved to wrath and to laughter, and just as unaccountably to the one or to the other.
That the self-appointed leaders of the nation, who must be credited with knowing their people, could not resist the temptation to play with fire, and indeed provided the inflammable materials, was indeed one of the most striking proofs of their own political immaturity. Some of them would admit that to allow demonstrations for freedom and independence to degenerate into riots in which foreigners' shops were smashed and foreigners' heads were broken irrespective of nationality was hardly the best way to inspire confidence abroad in the capacity of a self-governing Egypt to safeguard the interests of the foreign communities within her gates. They would admit that for the Bar to go on strike and oblige the Courts to suspend their proceedings until it pleased the barristers to resume their pleadings was not calculated to enhance public respect for the law. They would agree that thebrutally shot down by Britishy taught to look to Zaghlul, and to him alone, as the representative of the Egyptian nation destined to work out its future salvation. The Committeed belongs by rights to Islam, resents all forms of progress emanating from Western civilisation and readily translates itself into aggressive fanaticism.