The Flower of the East

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I have recently got back from a trip to Cairo, during which I picked up a few curious publications. One of them is this edition of Zahrat al-Sharq (The Flower of the East). On the cover are “Four soldiers who represent the Indian forces who have joined the forces of the Empire in the war against Nazi tyranny”.

I have not been able to find much out about this particular journal but in 1941 this is the fourth year, so it must have been set up in 1938. Whether or not it started as a propaganda magazine for the British is unclear but by 1941 its primary focus is to attack the Nazis and support the Allies.

There are several satirical cartoons against Hitler and Mussolini:

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This shows a Nazi Padlock on the University of Rome. The Caption reads:

Hitler: “The Education of the Roman students should not be constrained by Freedom of Thought”

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This shows two Italians saying: “The Germans have taken control of Italy for its protection … but who will protect us from the Germans?”

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This cartoon, on the back cover, shows “Adolph and his Donkey Benito”. One of them is saying: “When we control the world we will ban the sky from raining”

As well as cartoons the journal also published articles and this little anti-Hitler ditty:

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During the Second World War much effort was spent trying to either hold or take parts of the Arab World. The British had long been worried about the spread of communism (see this old post) but now they had to deal with fascist propaganda and military incursions. For instance, one recent book has looked in detail at the Italian propaganda station Radio Bari.

The details of this publication are shadowy. The writing and drawings were done by local Arabic speakers but the message is united in praise of Britain and against its enemies. Presumably the British government contributed to its funding, or funded it entirely.

Perhaps the journal constituted part of the work of the “Brotherhood of Freedom” headed at different times by Freya Stark and Christopher Scaife. This was a network of friends of the British who set up small discussion groups or gatherings to discuss the war effort and assuage the worries of the Egyptian people.

Whatever it is, the magazine warrants more research.

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