3.3.2 Egyptian Nationalism part 2

3.3.2 Egyptian Nationalism part 2


Thus begins a new period in Egypt history,
the period of British occupation, and this period of British
occupation generated new forms of political expression of
particularly Egyptian Nationalism. Against the background of
the peculiar Egyptian status. A part of the Ottoman empire directly
occupied by the British, and Egyptian nationalism became
ever more vociferous, especially in the last
decade before World War One. Further expansion of the school
system under the British occupation also meant further expansion of a relative
freedom of speech that the British did allow in Egypt, more so
in Egypt than in the Ottoman Empire. And there was a constant growth
of Egyptian national sentiment. The continued competition
with the Turko-Circassians over positions in the army and the bureaucracy also contributed to
this Egyptian national sentiment. And then there were other
specific incidents and instances that contributed to
the sense of Egyptianness. In 1906 there was the very famous or perhaps one should say
infamous Dinshaway Incident. And incident in which British officers hunting pigeons in the village
of Dinshaway in the delta. Got into a fracas with the villages
of Dinshaway at the end of which a British officer died. The result was a trial
of people of Dinshaway, executions of some of them,
the public flogging of many others. And a huge outcry in Egypt
against the British occupation in the name of the Egyptian people. These were also the years
in which in Egypt too there was influence of the example of Japan. This Asian power that had defeated
the Europe power, the European power, the Russians in 1905,
which also gave a, an impetus to the sense of Egyptian nationalism. 1907 was an important year for the establishment of modern style
political parties in Egypt. One of these was the Nationalist Party, al-Hizb al-Watani led by Mustafa Kamil. Who lived from 1874 to 1908. And the party that he established
in the name of nationalism, Watani in Arabic, was an example of how
the Arabic language was beginning to change to incorporate new,
modern meanings coming from Europe. Originally, the word watan,
which now means national meant just the place of birth. It now became to mean Watani in the French
sense of patrie, Watan acquired a new, modern meaning in connection
with the nationalist idea. It now acquired,
like European nationalism, this sense of attachment and loyalty. Kamil was an exciting orator and a writer,
but ideologically very inconsistent. He, above all else,
wanted the British out. He occasionally supported the occasionally
went along with the Ottomans or Islam or secular Egyptian nationalism. Anything that served his
immediate political needs. Mustafa Kamil died in 1908 and
was succeeded by his far less illustrious,
companion, Muhammad Farid. Who was more of an Islamist and
usually pro-Ottoman. Another political party established in 1907 was that established
by Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid, and the name of that party, Hizb al-Umma, also
meant, essentially, the Nationalist Party. Umma originally meant community
as in the community of believers. But now in the modern era
Umma had also come to mean the people in the modern
nationalist sense. Hizb al-Umma also meant
the nationalist party if one is to translate from
the Arabic into the English. And Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid had been a
disciple of Muhammad Abduh, the great, or the greatest, one could say,
of the Islamic reformers. Abduh himself in his later years had
become supportive of Egyptian nationalism. But Ahmad Lutfi took
this a few steps further, shifting from westernizing Islamic
reform to uncompromising secularism. For Ahmad Lutfi, secular nationalism meant nationalism on a geographic,
historic, and linguistic foundation. Nationalism, as far as he was concerned,
was not about religious identity. Ahmad Lutfi was a classic
European liberal. An intellectual giant,
known by his generation as the philosopher or
mentor of the generation. He firmly rejected religion as
the cohesive element of society. Countries must be guided by national
interest, not religious belief. The nation existed independently
of the Islamic community, and he, Ahmad Lutfil believed,
in a territorially defined nation state. But as the British historian
PJ Vatikiotis has pointed out. Ahmad Lutfil underestimated
the political power inherent in the instinctive adherence
of Egyptians to their Islamic heritage. Ahmad Lutfil also differed with those
who sought immediate British withdrawal. In his mind, the British
presence was actually beneficial. It would enhance
the modernization of the Muslims. So he and Muhammad Abdul
believed that Egypt was not yet ready for their ideas and that
the continuation of the British presence could actually further secular
liberal ideas in Egyptian society. And only after that was achieved, they
thought the British should leave Egypt. But there were limits on nationalism in
this period before the First World War. Very many people still had a very
strong Islamic Ottoman allegiance. And this was indicated in a very
strange incident of drawing the border between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, in a
negotiation that was between the Ottomans on the one hand, and the British as the
greater to rules of Egypt on the other. In defying the boundary between Egypt and
the Ottoman Empire. That boundary which is presently
the boundary between Egypt and Israel, that boundary that runs from Rafah
on the Mediterranean to Taba and Eilat on the Red Sea. In drawing that line in 1906, there was a dispute between the British and the
Ottomans on where the line ought to go. The Egyptian public in this debate, supported the Ottomans against
Egyptian territorial claims, because these territorial claims
were being made by the British, and the people still felt this strong
allegiance to the Ottomans. There were also continued sectarian
tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt. The Coptic Christians in Egypt
were naturally very attracted to the idea of a secular
Egyptian nationalism. Secular nationalism for the Christians, like in other parts
of the region was very attractive. It was an ideology that would allow in
the name of secular nationalism for Christians and
Muslims to share an identity as equals. If the community is to
remain identified by Islam, it would make it much more difficult for
the Christians or for other minorities to enjoy equality
with the Muslim majority. So there were tensions
between the Copts and the Muslims in Egypt, and
these were expressed for example, in the assassination in 1910 of the Coptic
Prime Minister of Egypt, Butrus Ghali. And he was assassinated by a Muslim, who accused the Copts of being too
supportive of the European powers. Copts as a result became somewhat
disappointed in the nationalist movement in Egypt and they would continue
Coptic-Muslim suspicions and rivalry. The Copts tended to stress
Egyptianness which. As already mentioned was
far more convenient for them, while Muslims still attached much
importance to Egypt’s Islamic identity. There was an Arab dimension in Egypt
nationalism but it wasn’t very central. It was much more related to the hostility
to the Turk elite than to Arab nationals. And this hostility became increasingly
irrelevant as the Turkish assimilated ever more
into Egyptian society. Now, to draw some conclusions from
this debate about nationalism. Nationalism arraigned the idea of
a select, educated urban minority. It was not the ideology of the masses. Certainly as long as
the Ottoman Empire continued to exist. Most people were still influenced in
the main by Islamic tradition and by religious identity. Indeed the old education system had l,
lost much of its power. And it no longer supplied bureaucrats and
judges who learned in the new schools. Not to mention the army officers who
were at the vanguard of political and social change. But in the lineages of the the old
order was still very strong. The Sufi mystical religious orders
still had much sway over the people and the popular worldview. Islam remained an important component
of the nationalist movement and one could not effectively
mobilize the masses without it. Islam was still very much at the center,
both of Arabism and of Ottomanism, and both Arabism and Ottomanism were forms
of nationalist defense against the west. They both took pride in
the past greatness of Islam. And in political terms they both sought
the preservation of the Muslim Empire albeit in different ways Subtitles by the Amara.org community

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