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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

248
THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM
CHAP
s,
July, the " special courts" were abolished and the jurisdiction of the ordinary Egyptian tribunals revived. Even the witnesses who had given evidence before the special courts were no longer safe against vendetta. Schools and colleges again went out on strike, and there were threats of impending railway strikes and strikes amongst Government officials. Big processions reappeared in the streets of Cairo and of Alexandria, tur-baned ulema from El Azhar and Effendis in European clothes, students and schoolboys • galore, and alwavs a large tail of mere rabble out for any mischief that might be going. And during the last weeks of October and the first weeks of November there was grave -mischief in Alexandria. The Government, scenting danger, had forbidden street demonstrations, but the Extremists disregarded the prohibition and were able to do so at first with impunity. The British headquarters had wisely decided to keep the British troops as far as possible in the background whilst holding them in reserve, should the local authorities require their assistance in the event of grave disorder. On several occasions, however, British troops had to be sent in to reinforce the Egyptian police, and affrays occurred between them and the more truculent elements in the mob which led to some loss of life, unfortunately not always confined to the rioters. When shots are fired in the streets of a large city, there are almost inevitably some innocent victims. As to the spirit that moved some sections of the mob, the looting with which these riotous demonstrations almost invariably ended could leave no manner of doubt. It was anti-foreign, not merely anti-British. In fact it was Greek and Jewish shops that suffered most. But though the responsibility rested entirely with the leaders who organised and incited these demonstrations and then remained discreetly in the background, the Nationalists filled the native Press and loaded the cable lines to Europe and America with sensational accounts of Egyptian men, women, and children being brutally shot down by Britishy taught to look to Zaghlul, and to him alone, as the representative of the Egyptian nation destined to work out its future salvation. The Committeed belongs by rights to Islam, resents all forms of progress emanating from Western civilisation and readily translates itself into aggressive fanaticism.