The Turks in Egypt and their Cultural Legacy

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Such people were seen as inconvenient. However, they did not simply disappear with independence. As such, post-colonial rulers often had to grapple with the problem of what it meant to be independent. Was it enough to be formally independent? Or did they need to rid themselves of the old colonial order, including the people who represented it, and then replace it with a new system based on their supposedly authentic political identity.

At the beginning of the 20 th century, Egypt was controlled by the British. It was one of the most cosmopolitan countries in the Middle East. Some of these communities had existed in Egypt for centuries. There were classes of people who spoke only French or Italian and could barely get by in Arabic. Alexandria in particular was quite diverse, and it location on the Mediterranean coast had made it home to large and historic Greek, Italian, and Jewish populations. They often had ties to the ruling elites and to international business networks.

Memoir literature covering this period often gives colorful details of this cosmopolitanism. He did business with French Colonial merchants and Greek entrepreneurs. He gambled with wealthy Egyptians, including, on occasion, the king. When Egypt became independent in , this cosmopolitan crowd did not initially suffer. The monarchy that ruled Egypt remained in place, and it had close ties to the British and international networks.

However, anti-Imperialist movements in Egypt soon began to form and to call not only for formal independence, but also for cutting ties with Britain and removing the remnants of the colonial order in Egypt.

Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood wished to build and Islamic state. Nationalists wanted a republic. The nationalists eventually won, and under the leadership of Gamal abd al-Nasser, they overthrew the monarchy in Over the next half decade, they expelled the British and created a republic. Nasser had initially articulated an ideology based on three circles of identity Arab, African, and Islamic , but Arabism quickly became dominant. He quickly suppressed the Islamists, who had collaborated with him in overthrowing the monarchy, but were rivals based on their different political identities.

In the name of Arabism, his regime passed laws restricting the rights of the mutamassirun and other elites who had been tied to the old, colonial order in Egypt. He forced state institutions, such as schools and the bureaucracy to use Arabic as their sole language. During the colonial period, many non-Arabs had received citizenship from various European powers as a means of achieving protection from local authorities and advancing their financial interests. However, most of those who had received citizenship were native Egyptians, and sometimes had never even visited the country that had issued them a passport.

Eventually Nasser expelled or forced out most non-Arab Egyptians i. Jews, Greeks, Italians, etc. The largest of these expulsions occurred in response to the Suez Crisis on , when Nasser nationalized the canal, and then the British, French, and Israelis invaded the Sinai. Nasser portrayed the non-Arab speaking Egyptians as foreign agents, and thus not Egyptian.

They were forced to leave. As a result, Egypt over the past 60 years has become more and more Arab, and less cosmopolitan. The second case is Iraq. When the British took over after the war, they appointed Sunni Arab nationalist Faisal as king of Iraq. Thus, although he was an Arab nationalist, he owed his position in Iraq to the British. In the early 20 th century, Iraq was not as cosmopolitan as Egypt, in that it did not have as many international connections. However, it was much more diverse.

Byzantium’s Legacy

In many regions of Iraq, these groups made up significant portions of the population. For example, while it may be difficult to believe today, the largest community in Baghdad during the interwar period was Jewish. Like in Egypt, many of the linguistic and religious minorities looked to the ruling empires for support. They had done so under the Ottomans, and then again under the British. This aligned the interests of these groups with the colonial rulers, and caused trouble for them when the colonial powers departed. The Assyrians, for instance, had served as soldiers for the British.

This fact was resented by many Muslims and when Iraq became independent in , some of the Muslim populations settled scores. In they massacred large numbers of Assyrians in Northern Iraq and destroyed their villages. Jews also had close ties to the British, and many Iraqi Jews used the global nature of the British Empire to create large and very successful businesses, stretching from Baghdad to Manchester England to India.


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The well-known Sassoon family, for example, was Iraqi and Jewish. Again, after the British left, Iraqi nationalists saw the Jews as tied to or remnants of the old colonial order. They were depicted as foreigners, despite the fact that they had been in Iraq for over years — since the Babylonian exile described in the Bible.

The Jews eventually left en masse in the early s. Today there are none left. Iraq was plagued by numerous coups throughout the middle decades of the 20 th century. The Assyrians, which are a religio-ethnic-linguistic group, could emphasize their religious identity. Kurds had more trouble. He transferred Arabs into strategic Kurdish areas in an attempt to alter the demographics. As one might expect, over the years, Iraq has become much less diverse.

There are no longer any Jews. The Christian populations are dwindling and may disappear. More recently, groups like the Yazidis are have a very difficult time.

So like in Egypt, a process of homogenization is occurring in Iraq. The final case study looks at Iran. One could question the appropriateness of including Iran here. It is clearly as not post-colonial as the other two cases in that it was never colonized. In the first half of the 20 th century, the British and the Russians divided Iran into spheres of influence, but it was never formally part of a European empire.

Despite this, many of the same antagonisms toward colonialism and imperialism emerged in Iran as in other Middle Eastern states. The Pahlavi Shahs, who ruled as the monarchs of Iran through most of the 20 th century, were supported by Western powers. The most controversial episode with regard to this support occurred in , when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossedeq threatened Western interests in Iran by nationalizing the Iranian oil industry.

The United States and the British supported his ouster and then restored the pro-Western Shah, who had fled the country during the crisis. Within Iran, political and religious movements formed in opposition to Western influence in Iran. Much like their post-colonial counterparts, they framed Western policies as a type of neo-imperialism. These movements came together in during the Iranian revolution to overthrow the Shah.

Like in Egypt, the various nationalists, socialists, and Islamists were able to cooperate based on this anti-imperial framing. In Egypt, the nationalists succeeded and then suppressed the socialists and Islamists. In Iran, the Islamists succeeded and then suppressed the socialists and nationalists.

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But one can see a similar pattern. However, he also mixed in Persian nationalism. The name has been hotly disputed by nationalists on all sides. When Khomeini was presented with the option of transcending these nationalistic debates and simply calling it the Islamic Gulf, he refused, and insisted that it was the Persian Gulf. This Persian chauvinism has created problems in Iran.

Traces of Muhammad Ali Pasha's family at Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Persian and Iranian are sometimes used synonymously; however, they are not the same. Persian is an ethno-linguistic group. Iran is a state in which percent of the people are Persians. In the process it has marginalized other languages and restricted the rights of other religious groups. In that way, though Iran was never formally colonized, it has faced many of the same issues as states that emerged out of colonial empires. As the Iran case demonstrates, not all states that demonstrate post-colonial tendencies were actually colonized. Furthermore, as was mentioned above, some states that were colonized do not demonstrate these features.

The great city of Alexandria boasted its famous Library of almost half a million handwritten books during the third century BC. Alexandria's center of learning also produced the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible , the Septuagint. Drep During the first few centuries of the Christian era, Egypt was the ultimate source of a great deal of ascetic literature in the Coptic language. Egyptian monasteries translated many Greek and Syriac words, which are now only extant in Coptic.

Under Islam , Egypt continued to be a great source of literary endeavor, now in the Arabic language. In , al-Azhar University was founded in Cairo , which to this day remains the most important center of Sunni Islamic learning. In 12th-century Egypt, the Jewish Talmudic scholar Maimonides produced his most important work. In contemporary times, Egyptian novelists and poets were among the last to experiment with modern styles of Arabic-language literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated.

Many Egyptian books and films are available throughout the Middle East. Other prominent Egyptian writers include Nawal El Saadawi , well known for her feminist works and activism , and Alifa Rifaat who also writes about women and tradition. Sunni Islam sees Egypt as an important part of its religion due to not only Quranic verses mentioning the country, but also due to the Al-Azhar University, one of the earliest of the world universities, and the longest functioning. It was created as a school for religion studies and works. The Egyptians were one of the first major civilizations to codify design elements in art.

The wall painting done in the service of the Pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. Early Egyptian art is characterized by the absence of linear perspective , which results in a seemingly flat space. These artists tended to create images based on what they knew, and not as much on what they saw. Objects in these artworks generally do not decrease in size as they increase in distance and there is little shading to indicate depth. Sometimes, distance is indicated through the use of tiered space , where more distant objects are drawn higher above the nearby objects, but in the same scale and with no overlapping of forms.

People and objects are almost always drawn in profile. The Fragmentary panel of the Lady Thepu, on the right, dates from the time of the latter king. Early Egyptian artists did have a system for maintaining dimensions within artwork. They used a grid system that allowed them to create a smaller version of the artwork, and then scale up the design based upon proportional representation in a larger grid. Modern and contemporary Egyptian art can be as diverse as any works in the world art scene. Many artists in Egypt have taken on modern media such as digital art and this has been the theme of many exhibitions in Cairo in recent times.

There has also been a tendency to use the World Wide Web as an alternative outlet for artists and there is a strong Art-focused internet community on groups that have found origin in Egypt. Egypt's cultural contributions have included great works of science , art , and mathematics , dating from antiquity to modern times. Considered to be the first engineer, architect and physician in history known by name, Imhotep designed the Pyramid of Djoser the Step Pyramid at Saqqara in Egypt around - BC , and may have been responsible for the first known use of columns in architecture.

The Egyptian historian Manetho credited him with inventing stone-dressed building during Djoser's reign, though he was not the first to actually build with stone. Imhotep is also believed to have founded Egyptian medicine , being the author of the world's earliest known medical document, the Edwin Smith Papyrus. The silk road led straight through ancient Alexandria.

Also, the Royal Library of Alexandria was once the largest in the world. It is usually assumed to have been founded at the beginning of the 3rd century BC during the reign of Ptolemy II of Egypt after his father had set up the Temple of the Muses or Museum. The initial organization is attributed to Demetrius Phalereus. The Library is estimated to have stored at its peak , to , scrolls. One of the reasons so little is known about the Library is that it was lost centuries after its creation.

All that is left of many of the volumes are tantalizing titles that hint at all the history lost due to the building's destruction. Few events in ancient history are as controversial as the destruction of the Library, as the historical record is both contradictory and incomplete. Its destruction has been attributed by some authors to, among others, Julius Caesar , Augustus Caesar , and Catholic zealots during the purge of the Arian heresy, Not surprisingly, the Great Library became a symbol of knowledge itself, and its destruction was attributed to those who were portrayed as ignorant barbarians , often for purely political reasons.

A new library was inaugurated in near the site of the old library.

History Summarized: The Ottoman Empire

The Lighthouse of Alexandria , one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World , designed by Sostratus of Cnidus and built during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter served as the city's landmark, and later, lighthouse. Alexandria , being the center of the Hellenistic world, produced a number of great mathematicians, astronomers, and scientists such as Ctesibius , Pappus , and Diophantus.

It also attracted scholars from all over the Mediterranean such as Eratosthenes of Cyrene. Ptolemy is one of the most famous astronomers and geographers from Egypt, famous for his work in Alexandria. Ptolemy was the author of two important scientific treatises. In this work, one of the most influential books of antiquity, Ptolemy compiled the astronomical knowledge of the ancient Greek and Babylonian world.

Ptolemy's other main work is his Geography. This too is a compilation, of what was known about the world's geography in the Roman Empire in his time. In his Optics , a work which survives only in an Arabic translation, he writes about properties of light , including reflection , refraction and colour. His other works include Planetary Hypothesis , Planisphaerium and Analemma. Ptolemy's treatise on astrology, the Tetrabiblos , was the most popular astrological work of antiquity and also enjoyed great influence in the Islamic world and the medieval Latin West.

Ptolemy also wrote influential work Harmonics on music theory. After criticizing the approaches of his predecessors, Ptolemy argued for basing musical intervals on mathematical ratios in contrast to the followers of Aristoxenus backed up by empirical observation in contrast to the over-theoretical approach of the Pythagoreans. He presented his own divisions of the tetrachord and the octave, which he derived with the help of a monochord. Ptolemy's astronomical interests also appeared in a discussion of the music of the spheres.

He was awarded a faculty appointment at Caltech in , where he has remained since. Zewail's key work has been as the pioneer of femtochemistry. He developed a method using a rapid laser technique consisting of ultrashort laser flashes , which allows the description of reactions at the atomic level.

Protection of Europe

It can be viewed as a highly sophisticated form of flash photography. In , he received Egypt's highest state honor, the Grand Collar of the Nile. In modern times, archaeology and the study of Egypt's ancient heritage as the field of Egyptology has become a major scientific pursuit in the country itself. The field began during the Middle Ages , and has been led by Europeans and Westerners in modern times.

The discovery of the Rosetta Stone , a tablet written in ancient Greek, Egyptian Demotic script, and Egyptian hieroglyphs, has partially been credited for the recent stir in the study of Ancient Egypt. Greek , a well-known language, gave linguists the ability to decipher the mysterious Egyptian hieroglyphic language.

The ability to decipher hieroglyphics facilitated the translation of hundreds of the texts and inscriptions that were previously indecipherable, giving insight into Egyptian culture that would have otherwise been lost to the ages. The stone was discovered on July 15, in the port town of Rosetta Rosetta , Egypt, and has been held in the British Museum since Football is the most popular sport in Egypt. Egyptian football clubs especially El Ahly and El Zamalek are known throughout the continent of Africa and enjoy the reputation of long-time champions of the sport regionally.


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  • They enjoy popularity even among non-Egyptians. The Egyptian national football team won the African Cup of Nations seven times setting a new record in Africa years: 57, 59, 86, 98, 06, 08, In the World Military Cup , Egypt won the title 5 times and was the runner-up another 2 times. Other popular sports in Egypt are basketball , handball , squash , and tennis. The Egyptian national squash team is always known for its fierce competition in worldwide championships, from the s to today. Handball has become another increasingly popular sport among Egyptians as well.

    Since the early s, the Egyptian national handball team has become a growing international force in the sport, winning regional and continental tournaments as well as reaching up to fourth place internationally in The Junior national handball team reached the first rank in under the lead of Captain Gamal Shams, and it hosted the tournament in setting a record in the audience number specially the match between Egypt and Denmark in the semifinals, the stadium was completely full.

    In older times s and 40s , Egypt was a powerhouse in weightlifting , boxing , and wrestling with several Olympic and world championship medals. Also, roller hockey quad is available in Egypt, but the teams that are playing this game may not exceed 10 teams and the most famous club which plays roller hockey is "Al-Zamalek sporting club", and also "Nasr-City sporting club".

    The Egyptian national roller hockey team has taken part in many world competitions, but unlikely the team didn't win any tournament. Local sports clubs receive financial support from the local governments, and many sporting clubs are financially and administratively supported by the government. Egyptian cinema has flourished since the s.

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