Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

ix                      SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS                    16&
Cabinet themselves complained bitterly that they could not restrain their own daughters. The girls were indeed more violent than the boys, and some of the few English women teachers had an extremely unpleasant time at the hands of their mutinous pupils. Much of this may seem childish, but it would be wrong to make light of the widespread bitterness that underlies this feminine upheaval. For the women of Egypt, though they may be politically powerless, reflect, perhaps in an exaggerated but none the less alarming form, the general uprising against authority produced by the Extremist campaign against the British " usurpers."
Participation in turbulent street demonstrations may not have been the healthiest form of emancipation, but so sudden and violent a change is bound to leave a permanent mark upon the women of Egypt. Whether the men of Egypt were wise to encourage it may be left to them to discover. Anyhow, it has imported a new and very potent ferment which is likely to affect social life more deeply than political life.
It is characteristic of the change which the last forty years have wrought in the mentality of the Egyptians that they have acquired a conception, however extravagant at times, both of individual and national rights which could have little or no meaning for them before the Occupation, when for centuries there had been no rights except those of a despotic ruler, whose will could override every law, and was in fact itself the only law. It is to our credit as well as to the Egyptian's that the rule of law which we succeeded in establishing, though still imperfectly, during the period of British control has raised him to this higher conception of his rights and endowed him in consequence with a new sense of self-respect. Corruption and nepotism are still rife, and have increased appreciably during the last year of political unrest as soon as British control slackened. But Egyptian opinion now professes at any rate to reprobate them, though it is a fact of no slight significanceer. Members of theGreek and Coptic usurers, and the woman's holdhave gone far to remove the sense of bitterness. After all the Syrian expedition would have been scarcely feasible without Egyptian labour and Egyptian supplies, and some expression of gratitude would not have marred its glory. But the saving word was never spoken ; and the payments due from the military authorities continued to lag for months behind, and the ugly past                    towns, the Central Government merely making certain