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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

XIV
A BARREN PERIOD OF DRIFT
251
schools were closed against them for a week as a disciplinary punishment.
One was sometimes tempted to ascribe to a strain of African blood-in the Egyptian people the sort of hysteria which seemed to run through all this period of wild political excitement just as it runs through the religious frenzy of " revivalist " campaigns amongst the coloured folk in the United States. But whatever may have been the case in remote ages before the dawn of history, there is very little purely* African blood in the Egyptians of to-day, and if there was much to perplex and repel one in the methods of agitation which the Nationalist leaders tolerated or encouraged, there was a background of earnestness and a faith in the righteousness of their cause which had to be seriously reckoned with. I found them as a rule ready and anxious to talk, and indeed grateful for any opportunity of placing their case before the British public. Some of those whom I saw had been with Zaghlul in Paris as members of the Delegation. Though they objected to be called " Extremists," or even " Nationalists," on the ground that national unity of sentiment on all essentials had rendered party nomenclature obsolete, their views could certainly be taken as representing those of the most stalwart exponents of Egyptian Nationalism, and it is only fair that I should set them forth as faithfully as the frankness and courtesy with which they expressed them to me deserve. I need not again dwell upon their stock-arguments in support of Egypt's claim to complete independence which they drew from our repeated promises that the Occupation would only be temporary, from our more recent declarations during the Great War that it was being waged to give freedom to small nations, and from our proclaimed adhesion to the doctrine of self-determination and to President Wilson's Fourteen Points. Nor need I expatiate again upon their resentment of the British policy of silence as to the meaning and purpose of the Protectorate, by which, during the war, we forcibly modified the