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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

xvi             GOVERNMENT BY MARTIAL LAW             277
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moi;e fiction than fact. It is scarcely surprising that pious Mahomedans should have deemed it little less than blasphemy when he seized the occasion of his last birthday to introduce into the solemn Friday service a new prayer for his personal glorification as a model of all the virtues and brought his own name directly into conjunction with that of Allah and of the Prophet. With their nerves already on edge as to the fate of the Ottoman Sultan and Khalif, the politically-minded were quick to suspect an insidious design on ttie prerogatives of the Khalifate, which we have solemnly pledged ourselves to safeguard. There were angry protests and violent scenes in several mosques, and so many copies of the egregious prayer had been printed and issued from the Palace to the principal mosques all over the country that the silence imposed by the censor could not check the widespread indignation aroused by this gratuitous challenge to Mahomedan feeling. Nor was the indignation directed only against Sultan Fuad. As we had placed                           ,
him on the throne, it was not unnaturally, though quite                          -'
wrongly, assumed that he would never have dared to take such risks except at our instigation or at least with our consent. Not for the first time we were made to                          |||'
realise what a blunder had been committed when we chose as a successor to the late Sultan Hussein, who was universally respected, one who, as an Egyptian put it aptly, if rather bluntly, is " universally disrespected" by his subjects. Unpleasant as it is to say it, I have found scarcely a single Egyptian, and very few Englishmen, to dispute the accuracy of that unkind description. At a time when we have enough to do to regain the confidence which we have lost amongst so many classes in Egypt, it is deplorable that we should have to expend so much of our moral authority on bolstering up a ruler who has none with his own people. That we should go out of our way to identify ourselves still more closely with Mm by committing ourselves to recognise Ms infant son as heir to the Sultanate can only be interpreted by the people ofde its gates, and surrounded by a small ring of courtiers, many of whom are undesirable survivals from the ex-Khedive's entourage. The Egyptian public, to whom he is unknown, swallows greedily all the stories told against him, which one can only hope contain many other nations hud