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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

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Sir Eldon Gorst agreed to a law authorising the deportation, as an administrative measure, of "notoriously dangerous persons," merely after an inquiry conducted in each case by special commissions in accordance with a special form of procedure. As soon as this law was passed, 281 persons were deported to the Dakhla Oasis, and in the following year there was a notable reduction of the sort of crime dealt with under its provisions. But for reasons which have never been made public the Law of 1909 has been allowed to fall into desuetude, and of late years the annual returns of crime have been soaring upwards with frightful rapidity—a factor which must not be lost sight of in connection with the sudden outbreak of violence amongst the fellaheen during the rising in March, 1919. Nor should the large and wealthy landowning class, mostly absentees, and many of them rack-renters, lose sight of it. They have made huge fortunes out of the general rise in the prices of agricultural produce and especially out of the enormous rise in the price of cotton. They are improving the opportunity to screw up the rents of their tenants, and though Egypt is to a great extent a land of small proprietors—there are about a million and a half holdings of under ten feddans—most of these try to rent an additional bit of land from their wealthier neighbours. Many of them can afford at present to pay even extortionate rents. But the moment they cannot afford to do so there is bound to be trouble. The British Occupation has taught them for the first time in their history that the fellah too has -rights, and Nationalism has recently taught them that violence is at least excusable in the assertion of grievances. An agrarian movement, if once started under the pressure of economic distress, might easily assume against the landlords the same disorderly character of violence as the anti-British rising last year.
Amongst the native urban population there are respectable and well-to-do traders in the bazaars, and • skilled craftsmen and artisans, and petty Government officials,
M 2oweversly  and  promptly  expended