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), Abass 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, and a chasm remained between the country's idle elite and impoverished masses. Banking, finance and shipping was 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. Professionals were annoyed also. 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. Egypt's Christians were also opposed to British rule.
But there was no organized violence opposition to the British presence, as if it was realized that because of the war the British would be adamant in their response. During the war common Egyptians suffered shortages and rising prices, and there was forced labor sent to the front in France, commandeered by the British, but there were no riots. Riots would come after the war.
Copyright © 2001-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.