Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

attention in a few dignified words to the provocation under which the soldiers had acted. The real purpose of the protest became apparent, when the native Press published at the same time a long and vehement epistle which had accompanied it from the highest dignitaries of El Azhar, setting forth the claims of the nation to " complete independence " and endorsing the whole ultra-Nationalist programme.
Though addressed to the High Commissioner, it was a manifesto which woisld reach in due course every village and every mosque in Egypt and far beyond the frontiers of Egypt. It was an open defiance of the authority exercised by the High Commissioner under the Protectorate, which he had been sent out to uphold, and on the face of it an equally open defiance of the authority of the Sultan who had accepted the Protectorate. For Sultan Fuad had succeeded to the same supreme control which the Khedives had always enjoyed and which the ex-KJiedive Abbas in particular had tightened up over El Azhar. It would have been unthinkable in the days of Fuad's predecessors that the Grand Mufti and all the other Grand Ulemas and Ulemas of El Azhar should venture on so grave a step without having taken the orders of their titular head who was also the head of the State. It was stated in British official quarters that the Sultan sent for some of the signatories and rebuked them in private, but there were few Egyptians who believed that he had not been in some way either privy to their action or powerless to prevent it, when he did nothing publicly to mark his displeasure.
Of far less importance, but not without its own significance, was a manifesto with which most of the princes of the Sultan's own family followed suit. It was in the shape of a letter addressed to Lord Miner, but published simultaneously in all the Nationalist papers. Like the grave and reverend seigniors of El Azhar, these cc descendants of the glorious Mehemet Ali"—who, but for British bayonets, would have been swept out of Egypt
vo hastened, it inny be added, to return an extremely eonciluilory reply, explaining the circumstunet-H mid only drawinghad   committed   the   heinous   offencecially in o particular case which Egyptian public opinion, rightly that Egypt' wan quit** unripe for such democratic