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EMPIRE in EGYPT and SUDAN, to 1929 (1 of 3)

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Empire in Egypt and Sudan, to 1929

Wartime Egypt | Riots and Independence to 1924 | The Muslim Brotherhood

Wartime Egypt

Egypt was nominally a part of the Ottoman Empire until 1915. The British were at war with the Ottoman Turks and that year declared Egypt its protectorate. They deposed Egypt's khedive (governor-ruler), Abas II, who remained loyal to the Ottomans, and the British set up the khedive's uncle as the Sultan of Egypt, His Highness Husayn Kamil.

Egypt's ulama (Muslim scholars) administered Islam's sacred law while a chasm remained between the country's idle elite and its impoverished masses. Banking, finance and shipping were in the hands of the British and other foreigners – the French, Greeks, Armenians and others – who enjoyed the kind of extraterritorial rights commonly offered diplomats.

The ulama and various Islamists were annoyed with Britain's "Christian rule," and a broad segment of the population disliked the thousands of foreign soldiers in their country: British, Australian, New Zealanders and Indians. Egypt's Christians were also opposed to British rule. So too were Egyptian professionals. Egyptian bureaucrats disliked working under young Britons. In their opposition to Britain's presence in Egypt, civil servants, professors and journalists were keen on quoting British authors opposed to imperialism.

During the war between the British and the Ottomans, common Egyptians suffered shortages and rising prices, and there was forced labor with the British sending laborers to their front against the Germans in France. But for the time being there was no organized opposition to the British presence in Egypt that advocated violence, and there were no riots. That would come after the war.

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