By Amr S. Talaat

A controversial figure, Nazly Fadel’s image changes drastically depending on whose account of her life you read. We delve into the various accounts, telling the story of a little-known woman who had a great impact on many of Egypt’s most prominent men.

He pointed to the woman saying, ‘Hajja Um Rashad … she knows all the history… she can tell you everything … they come to her from far and wide to ask her’. Having got her air time, the woman proceeded in a tone of voice akin to an ambulance siren, ‘This is the tomb of Queen Nazly … King Farouk himself was here on the day she was buried … he cried all night poor lamb … we tried to console him … it is the will of God we told him … .’ She carried on in this nonsensical vein while leading me to the sepulcher of Princess Nazly Fadel. I didn’t think it worth the effort of arguing, nor even commenting, I simply contemplated the headstone and read the words inscribed, with the woman’s incessant chatter in the background.

Until recently the general opinion on princesses was that they were extremely superficial women, with not a care in the world, save for expensive fashions and ostentatious parties – a life revolving around luxury and extravagance. This image was created over a span of many years, starting with a slanderous campaign following the 1952 revolution, which produced, with time, stereotypical characters, easily depicted in articles, novels and dramatic works, with nobody bothering to review or investigate the reality behind the image. Only recently has the name of Princess Fatma Ismail come to light, on the occasion of the centenary of Cairo University, when her vital contribution to the existence of this great institution became known. People began to comprehend that amongst the princesses were those who believed in their country and sacrificed for it, and that the common image, which became so familiar to us as of 1952, was contrived to do them gross injustice and undermine their rights.

Princess Nazly Fadel in a studio photograph, most probably with a bond-maid.

The edifice is built of morose grey marble, with decorative engravings which are very simple in comparison to others built at the same time or even to the ones in the vicinity. Yet, it catches your eye, because it is different from its contemporaries, distinctive from its era … exactly like its owner!

Beauty and Mystery

Her beauty was breathtaking; a fine figure, sculpted lips, bewitching eyes and hands of alabaster. Her company was exhilarating, polished conversation, diverse topics and embellished speech. She spoke six languages, forged strong friendships, and had a wide network of relations with the prominent figures of her time, with whom she could eloquently converse, bolstered by her own personal experiences and knowledge. She formed the first cultural salon in Egypt, maybe in the East, and still no-one seems to know her.

It is true that Princess Nazly Fadel was one of a kind in contemporary Egyptian – even Eastern – history. The East had not known of a woman who was able to overcome the social, political and cultural restraints that were forced upon her, as a woman and as a princess, such as Nazly did. What is more important than the intellectual standing and cultural stature of this princess, is her contribution to the enlightenment of minds at the turn of the twentieth century, and the marked effect she had on the thought and spirit of many of the renowned figures of the time.

The only thing that stands out more than the uniqueness of Nazly Fadel’s character is the mystery and ambiguity that surround her name. Sources on the princess are extremely scarce and unraveling the mystery presents a real challenge for any researcher, over and above the fact that the little information there is, is often contradictory. In the diaries of Saad Pasha Zaghloul, for instance, Nazly Fadel is portrayed as a cultured woman, who played an active role in the cultural scene, and was keen on the well-being of her homeland, ready to defend her country against any assault. Other memoirs, such as those of Mohamed Bek Farid, depict her as a pampered princess, despising Egyptians and deriding Egyptian men!

A biography that is mysterious with the strangest contradictions. Her salon encompassed not only the leaders of the occupation forces such as Cromer, Kitchener and Storrs, but also the leaders of the nationalist movement, such as al-Afghani, Mohamed Abdou, Saad Zaghloul and Qassem Amin. We read of her supporting Orabi at the Battle of al-Tel al-Kebir, donating money and gifts, as well as threatening the judges of al-Wardani – who killed Boutros Pasha Ghali – calling for leniency because the Egyptians considered the assassination a nationalistic deed, and then we turn the pages of another book only to find her quoted as saying that the Egyptian youth were not worth the rope that hanged them!

Such mystery and contradiction is enough to whet the appetite of any researcher: was Nazly Fadel truly a woman before her time, with her knowledge and principles and progressive ideas, or was she just a cunning woman who strove for personal gain, forging relations with the occupation and promoting their cause?

The Eleventh Wife

The tale of our princess starts with the story of her father, who was of great influence in shaping her personality and the path her future life would take. Her father was Prince Mostafa Bahgat Fadel, son of Ibrahim Pasha, himself the son of Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of the Alawiyya Dynasty. Mostafa Fadel was born on the 22 February 1830, only forty days after the birth of his half -brother Ismail. The boys inherited their hostility towards one another from their mothers; the two wives of Ibrahim. The feud was further inflamed when Ismail took the throne by right of the forty-day difference in their ages, and added insult to injury by changing the laws of succession and making his son Mohamed Tewfiq the heir instead of his brother, who moved abroad and spent his time between Europe and the Asitane.

Mostafa Fadel, who was supposed to be Khedive Ismail’s heir until hereditary laws were changed for the ruling line to pass from father to son.

Nazly was born in 1853, with the formal name Nazly Zeinab, double names being not uncommon at the time for the family. She had ten brothers and five sisters (of whom she was the eldest), but she was the only daughter of Dal Azad Hanem, her mother, one of the many wives of Mostafa Fadel. Hanem herself was born on 2 January 1837 at the Asitane and gave birth to Nazly at the age of sixteen. It is not known why she had no more children till her death on 24 December 1885 at the age of forty-eight.

It is possibly the large number of women surrounding her father that ignited Nazly’s interest in the issue of Muslim women and their rights. The two brothers, split by animosity, were joined in this trait of polygamy; Ismail had thirteen wives and child-bearers and Mostafa had three wives and eight child-bearers! The child-bearer was a slave owned by her master for the purpose of bearing him children. These children would have equal rights to the children born of his wives, to the extent that they could be heirs to the throne. Consequently, Nazly’s position as the daughter of one of the wives did not give her any privileges when compared to her siblings from the child-bearers.

Returning to the feud between Ismail and Mostafa Fadel (which in itself constitutes a very interesting chapter of history that deserves an independent study), we will focus on the parts pertaining to Nazly. Nazly traveled abroad with her father at the age of thirteen and did not return to Egypt until his death in 1875 when she was twenty-two. Thus, the princess spent her formative years between Europe and the Asitane, growing up with a mix of the East and West.

Nazly was first married in 1873 to Khalil Pasha Sharif who was thirty years her senior. Khalil Pasha was a cultured man, who had been educated in France as part of the delegations sent by Mohamed Ali Pasha; he then joined the diplomatic corps and was active in political life. He was the son of Mohamed Sharif Pasha, the Wali of the Levant (not Mohamed Sharif Pasha the famous nationalist Prime Minister).

Al-Haswa and Paris

‘Since the family and children of the deceased Mostafa Fadel Pasha are returning from the Asitane, it was deemed necessary to prepare al-Haswa Palace for their use. Under the supervision of our personal bureau, the palace has been refurbished and all furnishings and necessities purchased.’ This was the wording of the official decree issued by Khedive Ismail to the Minister of Finance in 1875, on the occasion of the return of Princess Nazly with her family from the Asitane after the death of her father. Al-Haswa Palace is what we know today as al-Abbasiya Palace.

Was Nazly Fadel truly a woman before her time, with her knowledge and principles and progressive ideas, or was she just a cunning woman who strove for personal gain, forging relations with the occupation and promoting their cause?

Whether Haswa or Abbasiya, Nazly did not remain there for long; her husband Khalil Pasha was first appointed as Minister of Justice in 1876 and then as Ambassador to Paris in 1877. Nazly then travelled with her husband to embark on one of the most important phases of her life; one that would enrich her knowledge and broaden her perspective of the world.

In the City of Light, Nazly interacted with the cultural environment through reading and learning as well as communicating and opening up to others. At that time in Paris, literary salons were en vogue, and the city teemed with these gatherings of intellectuals, politicians and literary men, discussing culture, arts and politics. The driving force behind each of these salons was usually a lady who regularly hosted the events at her home and was keen on inviting the elite. Nazly was exposed to these salons and understood the vital role they played in cultural development and in breathing life into society.

Accounts differ on whether death or separation ended Nazly’s marriage. Some say that she remained with her husband till his death in 1879, while others claim that they were separated before then. But, be it this or that, Nazly returned to Cairo in new form!

They are all at Henry’s …

The princess came back from Paris a cultured lady; she spoke Arabic, Turkish, English and French fluently, and was fairly proficient in Italian and German. She could converse with the men on equal terms, on a variety of subjects and discuss all areas of knowledge. She was concerned with the issues of her homeland and aware of the concerns of countries such as Japan and China.

It was natural for such a woman of intellect, culture and intelligence to simulate what she had experienced in Paris, and so she held the first cultural salon in the history of modern Egypt at her palace.

Nazly established her home behind Abdeen Palace. Her palace had a large garden and was known as Villa Henry in La Companie Street. She furnished it exquisitely, mostly in the style of Louis XV, and was keen on having all the furniture made in Egypt.

I have no idea what happened to the street later on, nor for that matter what became of Villa Henry, apart from the fact that it was demolished in the 1920s. The name, however, goes back to Sir Henry Layard the famous archaeologist who later turned to politics and was appointed as the British Ambassador to the Sublime Porte. Nazly met him while she lived in Istanbul; he was enchanted with her lively intelligence and intellectual leanings, and, because of his fatherly feelings for her, sponsored her quest for knowledge.

At the palace, the princess attracted the crème de la crème of Egyptian intellectuals, including Gamal al-din al-Afghani, Mohamed Abdou, Saad Zaghloul, Qassem Amin and Adib Isaac, amongst others. The princess’s salon also included her British friends such as Cromer, Kitchener and Bond. They all visited regularly, drawn by her brilliant intelligence, lively conversation and generosity, not to mention her magical beauty.

Halal … Halal!

Nazly’s role did not end with simply holding the salons, what is more impressive is that she had such a positive effect on developing the ideas of the attendees, even though they were all of high intellectual standing. One example of this is the role that the princess played in the lives of three of her most famous friends. The first of these was Sheikh Mohamed Abdou, who got to know Nazly on his return from exile in 1888. It is possible that he had heard from his mentor, Sheikh Gamal al-din al-Afghani, the latter’s appreciation of Princess Nazly, especially since she had supported his movement al-Urwah al-Wuthqa (the Indissoluble Link) while she was in Paris.

The princess, with her keen eye, discerned the enlightened mind of Sheikh Mohamed Abdou and invited him to attend her salon. Their relation deepened and grew stronger, lasting until his death. He even stayed at her palace when he visited Tunisia in 1903.

Historians say that it was the princess who encouraged him to learn French and read French literature. Sheikh Mostafa Abdel Raziq, whose father was a friend of Mohamed Abdou’s, wrote in a research paper that the princess had a great effect on the writings of the sheikh, making them lighter and more humorous. She definitely opened new horizons for him, such as painting, sculpture and other arts, and he proceeded to study them and appreciate their cultural worth, until finally pronouncing them ‘halal’. This was one hundred years ago, yet people today call them sinful!

Her Picture

Sheikh Mohamed Abdou introduced two of his students to Nazly, and she was to have a deep effect on each of their lives; one was to become the leader of the nation and the other would free its women. Nazly’s acquaintance with Saad Pasha Zaghloul started on a professional note: she hired him as her lawyer. Once again, Nazly’s understanding of the nature of men came into play; she detected the strength of personality and nurtured their relationship, encouraging Saad Zaghloul to attend her salon. We read of many discussions they had on contemporary issues. Mohamed Bek Farid writes that she was behind Cromer’s decision to appoint Saad Zaghloul to the Court of Appeal, and that she convinced Zaghloul of the importance of learning French.

At the palace, the princess attracted the crème de la crème of Egyptian intellectuals, including Gamal al-din al-Afghani, Mohamed Abdou, Saad Zaghloul, Qassem Amin and Adib Isaac, amongst others. The princess’s salon also included her British friends such as Cromer, Kitchener and Bond. 

She also tried to patch things up between Saad Zaghloul and Qassem Amin, who were both dear friends of hers, when they had a falling out. It was rumored at the time that it was Nazly who nominated Saad Zaghloul as a husband for Safeyya Hanem the daughter of Mostafa Pasha Fahmy the Prime Minister, but al-Aqqad in his book quotes Saad Zaghloul as saying that Qassim Amin was behind the marriage.

Stranger still is al-Aqqad’s claim that the princess was not comfortable with the marriage and did not play any part in arranging it, but he does not state how he reached this conclusion. It is clear from the memoirs of Saad Pasha that his friendship with the princess continued until her death. It is worth noting that Saad Pasha, who wrote his memoirs consistently throughout his life, stopped writing for six months after the death of the princess, but he does not mention that her death was the reason for his silence nor does he mention her death at all! If you visit the home of Saad Pasha (known as Beit al-Ummah today) you will find a picture of the princess hanging in the sitting room.

She Then Convinced Him…

The reader will perhaps be surprised to learn that the first article written by Qassem Amin, the pioneer of the women’s liberation movement in Egypt, was a strong attack against Egyptian women. Amin returned to Cairo after studying in Paris and compared what he had seen in France to what he found in Egypt in all areas of life, focusing on the social aspects and especially the status of women. Amin published a series of articles on his return in a paper called Al-Mu’aid where he severely criticized Egyptian women, comparing them to their European counterparts. He belittled them, and called for the necessity of them staying at home and not participating in any way in public life.

The articles upset Nazly greatly, and she asked Sheikh Mohamed Abdou to invite Amin to her home to discuss his ideas. Amin found himself before a superb image of an enlightened Muslim woman, one who could portray her ideas with confidence, discuss them with fine logic, and interact with the guests in her salon with highly tuned conversational skills using one of the many languages she spoke fluently. In short, Qassem Amin was impressed with Nazly as an example of what an Egyptian woman could be like if she were given the opportunity, and he was convinced that it was the shackles of society that were handicapping Eastern women and not any deficiency in their nature.

And so Qassem Amin began to champion the liberation of women, and wrote two books, Liberating Women and The New Woman. Princess Nazly Fadel and Sheikh Mohamed Abdou played a vital role in changing the perspective and ideas of Amin so that they took on the liberal form he is remembered by today.

The salon was not just a forum of culture and arts, where lofty political and cultural ideas were discussed, it was also an intellectual front, refuting the allegations ofthe  orientalists of the time, who were keen on publishing books that undermined Egypt, attacking its people and portraying an ignorant society belonging to the middle ages.

One of the most important works that the salon contested was written by Le Duc D’Harcourt in 1893, after he had visited Egypt three times, called L’Égypte et les Égyptiens. Nazly urged Amin to reply in the manner she had learned in the west; using logical arguments and not emotional rhetoric. In 1894, at Nazly’s expense Qassem Amin published his book Les Égyptiens, Réponse à M. Le Duc d’Harcourt, in which he proved the ability of Egypt to rise from its slumber and shake off the dust of the ages.


Prince Mostafa Fadel remained active in political life after leaving Egypt; he was appointed to different high level posts at the Asitane culminating with that of the Minister of Finance. He then had a disagreement with Sultan Abdel Aziz and travelled to Europe, and from there in 1866 wrote him a long memorandum entitled From a Prince to a Sultan. On reading the memorandum, we are amazed that it could easily have been written to one of our contemporary rulers! The prince begins his letter with the words, ‘How difficult it is for the truth to reach the attention of kings and princes, their entourage shields them from it and hides it, and they are drunk on the wine of kingship, distracted by the sweetness of power from doing the right thing’, he ends his letter to the sultan by saying, ‘Listen to your conscience to dictate what needs to be done in these times’. The prince urged the Sultan to enact political reforms, to establish a democracy and a constitutional government, such as those in Europe, and to develop the educational system.

Nazly was no less courageous than her father when it came to confronting Sultan Abdel Hamid. She was out of favor with the sultan for attending a conference in Paris, and he had been turned against her with whispers of the inappropriateness of a Muslim woman consorting with the enemies of the sultan.

Nazly was not shaken and did not step down. She sent a letter to the Sultan dated 22 October 1896 in which she reminded him that he had told her husband that he was a man enamored with the truth. She criticized the dire circumstances of the Turks, who were being massacred and suffered from poverty and injustice. She went further in her confrontation to tell him that she had been advised to apologize to the sultan, but that she refused to do so because she was convinced that she had done no wrong.

The sultan was enraged by the letter, but all sources say that he proceeded to urge Nazly to visit the Asitane. She went in 1898, and all sources agree that she was welcomed by the sultan who was intent on changing her stance towards him. One of Nazly’s friends, Qellini Pasha Fahmy, recounts that Nazly on her return from Istanbul began praising the Sultan profusely, when he questioned her change of heart she opened a chest filled with jewels given to her as a gift from the sultan! Wali al-din Yakan, another of Nazly’s friends gives an opposing account, however. According to him, Nazly remained true to her principles and continued to criticize and attack the sultan after her return. His account is more probable because the princess asked Fathi Pasha Zaghloul to translate her father’s book into Arabic wherein he attacked the system of government in the Asitane (it was published in 1913). Accordingly, relations between Nazly and Sultan Abdel Hamid remained hostile – it is said that he hated her so much that the courtiers were wary of mentioning her name at court!

Qassem of Tunisia

On a visit to Tunisia, Nazly was taken by Khalil Buhajeb, who was twenty years her junior. They got married on 5 April 1900.

Princess Nazly began travelling to Tunisia around 1896 to visit her sister Princess Ruqaiya, who had married a well-known Tunisian leader, Taher Bin Ayad. She had already formed relations with many Tunisians during her time in Paris and the elite of Tunisian intellectual circles took a great interest in her once she had set foot on Tunisian soil. Newspapers followed her sightseeing expeditions and her charitable contributions and she was also appointed as an honorable head of the al-Khaldouniya Society, which aimed at culturally developing and educating Muslim women in Tunisia.

It was in Tunisia that Nazly met Sheikh Salem Buhajeb, a judge, reformer and royal consultant. Nazly was impressed with his ideas and his active role, as well as being taken with his son Khalil Buhajeb, whom she married on 5 April 1900 when she was forty-seven and he was twenty years younger!

Previously, Nazly had refused many proposals of marriage; a prominent minister and a prince from her own family being among those who had asked for her hand. Buhajeb was the head of criminal investigations before being appointed as a district attorney, and after the death of Nazly he was made governor, then minister and finally prime minister in 1926. He died in 1939.

Nazly and Buhajeb lived for a while at his father’s palace, before he set them up in two palaces: one in the Marsa district and the other in the Hamam al-Anf district. It was not long before the palace at al-Marsa competed in affluence with her palace at Abdeen, and once again it attracted political and social reformers.

Nazly’s role in Tunisia did not end with her charitable works, she also had a strong effect on the development and status of women. At the time, women’s education was limited to foreign schools, consequently an educated woman would inevitably be westernized with no Islamic leanings. Nazly became the supreme example of an enlightened woman who was also deeply devout as well as passionate about the development of the daughters of her religion.

Nazly wasted no effort in supporting this claim; she took the initiative of contacting a leader of Tunisian reform at the time, a man named al-Bashir Safar, whom she invited to travel with her husband and herself to Egypt in 1907. There, he met many intellectuals and visited schools, and became convinced of the necessity of liberating Tunisian women, exactly as she had done with Qassem Amin in Egypt. With her encouragement, he established the first Muslim girls school in Tunisia, intent on educating women while preserving their religious learning and identity.

She said it, but …

We now come to the most confusing part of Princess Nazly’s history: the contradictory accounts of her life. Some sources tell of her preoccupation with the issues of her homeland and her relations with nationalist figures, while others tell of her contempt towards Egyptians! One of the sources of the latter kind is New Egypt by Amédée Baillot de Guerville, who claimed in his book that Nazly described Egypt’s youth as not being worth the rope to hang themselves with!

How could Nazly think in such a way, and then turn around and express anger at Qassem Amin for his disdain of Egyptian women and even manage to change his mind? How could men who set the example of nationalism such as Saad Zaghloul and Mohamed Abdou have a relationship with a woman who did not respect Egyptians? If Nazly did indeed view Egyptians in such a way, then how could she possibly see that Saad Zaghloul, the Egyptian farmer’s son, could be a suitable suitor for the daughter of Prime Minister Mostafa Fahmy, pasha of Turkish origin? If Nazly was truly a British agent then why would she campaign for a lighter sentence for al-Wardani who assassinated Boutros Pasha Ghali Pasha?

To answer these important questions about Nazly, we will need to throw light on the Egyptian political stage at the highlight of the princess’s cultural activity (1885–1913). At the time, the nationalist liberation movement suffered from the overpowering restrictions enforced by the British at the onset of their occupation to strengthen their hold over Egypt. Egypt had not witnessed any serious attempts at gaining liberty or independence since the exile of Orabi. The only exception at the time was Mostafa Pasha Kamel, but Nazly was suspicious of his movement and believed that he took advantage of the nationalistic element to gather funds and donations which prevented them getting closer to each other. Her attacks and accusations against Mostafa Kamel caused a rift in her relations with Mohamed Farid, who was a friend of hers.

This affected Nazly, who could not stand by while her country broke under the yoke of occupation and ignorance, and felt the need for its sons and daughters to defend it and demand their freedom. Her statements were in a way self-criticism, urging the new generation to take arms to liberate their country. Her words quoted by de Guerville prove this; she describes the affluent youth of the time as lazy, lacking courage and nationalist feelings, before closing with her infamous words ‘not worth the rope that hangs them’.

But the truth is that she did not stop at that, the rest of her statement clarifies her position and exonerates her from the crime of despising or hating Egyptians. She explains that the rich young people were only interested in the colour of their clothes and the styles of their shoes and that their degenerate lifestyle was a waste of their health and energies. It is a very normal statement spoken by many Egyptians every day when they criticize the status quo or criticize the younger generation. Some of us might use strong language when frustrated by the state of affairs of the country or any aspect of our lives, but this does not in any way mean that we are not committed to our homeland.

It is therefore my opinion that Nazly’s words to de Guerville were misconstrued and used by him to draw a picture of the wealthy Egyptian intellectual minority despising the majority of the Egyptian people and denying their claims to independence. A woman who denies her nationality and despises her compatriots does not spend her money on publishing books in their defense or confronting unjust allegations against them. If Saad Zaghloul or Mohamed Abdou had seen Nazly in this light they would have been the first to attack her in their memoirs and articles and would have definitely broken all ties with her.

This analysis, however, does not deny that Nazly believed that the British had had a positive effect on Egypt in some aspects. Were it not for the British, Egypt would not have had a constitution or a regularized government. She also gave Lord Cromer credit for being a great man. In fact, Sheikh Mostafa Abdel Raziq wrote that Mohamed Abdou’s attacks on the British in the newspapers became less hostile after he had made the acquaintance of Lord Cromer at the princess’s salon!

The crux of the matter lies in the fact that Nazly did actually see a benefit in the British presence in Egypt, and saw no harm in forging open relations with them. She did so, however, as a conservative devout Muslim woman, with strong nationalist tendencies, living her life in support of the issues of her homeland, greatly concerned with its development and reform.

And she Closed her Eyes …

Mystery also surrounds the princess’s progeny; some sources insist that she had no children, while the official palace records maintain that she had one daughter by her first husband Khalil Pasha Sharif named Hawaa Hanem. The records, however, do not give a date of birth or a date of decease which could lead us to believe that she died an infant. However, perusing Tunisian newspapers of the era we find accounts of her daughter accompanying her on her cultural trip to Tunisia in 1896, with an added detail that the girl spoke many languages like her mother. This logically proves that Hawaa survived early childhood; if the child was born sometime between 1874 (one year after Nazly married Khalil Pasha) and 1879 (the date of Khalil Pasha’s death) she would have been around 20 when she travelled with her mother to Tunisia. Hawaa Hanem is said to have married Mohamed Pasha al-Mardini  a political figure in the Ottoman government and the Wali of Syria. What is strange is that Al-Ahram newspaper, the day after Princess Nazly’s death, mentions that Hawaa Hanem had no comment.

Until the end of her life, Princess Nazly spent her time living in either Egypt or Tunisia, but always continued her intellectual activities at her two palaces: Abdeen and al-Marsa. Sultan Hussein recounts how he visited her on 28 December 1913 and remained with her till seven thirty in the evening. He tells how she was in the best of health, but noticed that her morale was low. She told him that she felt she would die in December – the month during which her mother had died. At dawn she had a heart attack, and it is said that she closed her eyes with her own hands before dying!

A representative of Khedive Abbas was present at her funeral – even though there was no love lost between them – and the procession went from her palace to her private burial spot at al-Imam al-Shafie to the sounds of sad music played by the military guard.

This is Nazly Fadel, who is known only to a small number of intellectuals and historians. We do not see her name listed amongst the supporters of women’s rights, such as Princess Fatma Ismail, Safeyya Zaghloul, Hoda Shaarawi, Nabaweyya Moussa and Ceza Nabarawi. Yet, she was a princess who rejected the shackles placed on women and who revolted against injustice. She set the best example of what an Eastern woman could reach in intellectual scope and broad understanding. Her struggle was not against occupation or dictatorship, but it was against society as a whole; against corrupted customs and redundant traditions. It was a struggle against those who strove to restrict the potential of women, against limited horizons and constrained ideas. Do we not need a new Nazly Fadel today?

This article was first published in print in RAWI's ISSUE 3, 2011