Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

told me themselves with unblushing frankness, viz., that many of the noisiest Nationalists amongst them are prompted chiefly by the conviction that, whatever happens, they have nothing to fear from the easygoing British, whereas they might have a good deal to fear from their fellow-countrymen if they failed to profess sympathy with a Nationalist movement that ultimately resulted in the effacement of British influence. They had indeed a very fair sample of what it would mean for them in the savage attacks made upon them during the popular rising in 1919.
The small but not unimportant Syrian and Armenian communities, which are amongst the most progressive elements in the country, occupy a singularly anomalous position which is not only of historical, but also of actual interest, as it is directly affected by the release of Egypt from Ottoman suzerainty. They and one or two other still smaller Christian communities have their own ecclesiastical organisations which, subject in most cases to their respective Patriarchates at Constantinople, Antioch, Mosul, etc., have enjoyed in Egypt the internal rights of self-government conferred upon them by the early Ottoman Sultans. But as Turkish rayahs they have always been denied the privileges and immunities which foreigners can claim under the Capitulations, though the French and the Greeks have at times tried to assert them on behalf of their own proteges, such as the Maronite Syrians and the Greek Orthodox. Many of them have been settled for years and even for generations in Egypt, some of them have risen to high positions, and most of them have become to all intents and purposes Egyptians. But Egyptian Nationalism has of late distinctly encouraged the tendency, of which there have always been traces, to treat them as foreigners and interlopers.
Among the Mahomedans the old Turkish and Circassian families still form a kind of aristocracy that regards the real Egyptians as an inferior race. Most of the Egyptianed to believe what some Copts havesponsive