From left to right: Sheikh Rashid Rida, a Saudi official, Hashem al-Atasi, Abdul Rahman Shahbandar. Standing in the back row (behind Shahbandar)is Kareem Thabet, the media advisor to King Ahmad Fouad I. The photo was taken during a reception at the Saudi Embassy in Cairo, honoring Hashem al-Atasi on July 12, 1934. Shahbandar was a Syrian exile living in Cairo since the mid-1920s. In 1920, Shahbandar had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under Prime Minister Atasi. The two men headed the first organized political opposition to the French Mandate in Syria. The two political parties quarelled politically in the 1930s, and when Shahbandar was killed in 1940, members of the National Bloc were accused of his murder. Despite the political tension, Atasi and Shahbandar remained close friends and had tremendous respect for each other.