Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

during the recent extravagant rise in prices of all the necessaries of life, and especially of the staple articles of native   food.    The  vast  majority   of  its  students  are extremely   poor.    Its   professors   receive   the   merest pittance.    Their average salaries are under £5 a month. The ex-Khedive promised that they should be raised and was able to put down his failure to redeem that promise to the parsimony of British financial control.   He knew when to be generous to those in authority whose support he required for his own purposes, but he had no wish to raise the University as a whole to a position of greater financial  independence.   Its  resources  are  still totally inadequate.   Its   income   only   amounts   to   £E.72,000 a year—a subvention  of  £E.18,000 from the State and £E.54,000 from trusts  administered by the Wakf.   The governing body is now moving for a very large increase, amounting to no less than £172,000 altogether, in the yearly grants made to it out of the Egyptian Budget. The demand may be excessive, and in the present temper of El Azhar it may well have been pitched so high merely to court a refusal which will constitute a fresh grievance against  the  British  controlling  power.   But whatever their  resentment   of  the  hostile   attitude  adopted  by El Azhar and of its unjustifiable intrusion into the domain of politics, those who are responsible for British policy would do well to remember that it is just as shortsighted to starve Mahomedan as to starve Western education in Egypt, and that El Azhar represents forces which in the present state of Islamic discontent outside as well as inside Egypt we can only continue to ignore at our perilly continue to ignore at our periLther patriots in every Nationalist demonstration, and El Azhar itself has become the chief centre of anti-British agitation. But it would not be fair to attribute the revolt of El Azhar solely to religious or social animosity. It has never felt the pinch of poverty so severely aseither of his successors tooktly, however, it is to be feared, the average El Azhar student carries away with him chiefly a religious arrogance which, rooted in the belief that the world belongs by rights to Islam, resents all forms of progress emanating from Western civilisation and readily translates itself into aggressive fanaticism.