For centuries, Egypt has had to deal
with war after war as nations have tried to conquer it and raise it up to be
one of their own countries. It started off with the Romans in 30BC and
continued until Great Britain granted Egypt independence in 1922. In 1882,
Britain and France were fighting each other over who was to conquer Egypt, now
that it was no longer being controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Britain ended up
landing on Egypt first, and declared that Egypt was now a protectorate nation of
Great Britain. Egyptians attempted to revolt and throw out Britain but failed,
and only weakened their country in the process. Egypt’s economy and social
status plummeted after it was conquered. The British were people of completely
different religious beliefs and customs, and the Egyptian’s way of life was
washed away in the new wave of people. Their religious way of governing their
country was abolished, and instead Egypt became a democracy. All building
ceased, because Egypt was in extreme debt and had to go on a trading overdrive
and had to open up the Suez Canal in order to make more money. In 1922, Britain
saw that Egypt’s economy and social status was failing, and backed out of the
country, announcing that it could become an independent nation. Britain was
only interested in Egypt because it helped Britain gain even more economic
power. Once things began to look bad, Britain left Egypt to fend for itself.
The Country of Great Britain
Overview of the Economy:
- Great Britain was one of the most powerful countries in the world at the time
- It became interested in Egypt because of the immense amount of trading and foreign relations going on via the Nile River and the Suez Canal.
- Great Britain had trade connections with North America, and wanted better connections with more of Africa and Asia.
- By the 19th century, Britain had trains to help them trade all over Europe.
- Because of the trains popping up, Britain needed more coal and iron to power them. A lot of iron, and eventually oil, could be found in Egypt.
- Great Britain was also competing with the United States in the cotton industry. Egypt just so happened to have cotton as one of its main productions, along with different foods.
- Great Britain was a large power, that liked to conquer other nations, but was smart enough to strategize rather than become completely power hungry and impulsive.
- It always seemed to be competing with France over land and trade, though the two countries had a love/hate relationship and didn't absolutely despise each other.
The Protectorate of Egypt
- Located in Northeast Africa.
- A desert plateau split by the Nile Rive and delta.
- Red Sea Hills east of the Nile.
- Very little fresh water away from the Nile.
- There are no forests, and only 5% of the land is arable.
- Temperatures during the summer often reach 104°F and rarely drop down to 32°F in the winter.
- Fertile soil was replenished by the Nile River, allowing cotton and different fruits and vegetables to be grown.
Mineral and petroleum deposits are abundant.
The Colonization of Egypt
- The British formed a republic democracy on Egypt in the year 1882.
- The indigenous population was severely hostile towards the British, and many revolts erupted within the colony.
- Most natural resources (black sand, iron, marble, granite, and gold) were used up and what was left were minerals that aren't easily developed (ex: limestone and sand).
- Funding for improvement of facilities such as schools, the army, public works, and essential maintenance stopped because of the financial crisis Egypt was in when Britain took over.
- Britain helped Egypt to gain loans from other foreign countries in order to help them with their debt and other financial problems.
- Great Britain also had a hand in controlling the government, which was slowly growing corrupt and falling apart.
- Because of Britain's new rule over Egypt, and because of Egypt being an 'exotic' new area, it became a popular tourist attraction.
- A lot of Egyptian culture was lost during British control. The Egyptian language slowly dwindled, and was replaced with Arabic, French, and English. The custom of having a monarchy (a pharaoh and his family) was abolished and instead a republic democracy, with a parliament and president, took its place.
Considerations/Concerns of the Imperialistic Era on Egypt
Some Positive Effects of the Colonization:
- Egypt was pulled away from the monarchy it was practicing beforehand, and became a democracy. During the imperialistic era, the civilians were angered by this, but in current day, no other countries are run this way and a form of democracy is a more realistic government approach.
- Because of Egypt being colonized by a large nation, and because of the pyramids and its other 'exotic' cultural aspects, Egypt gained many tourists after Britain colonized it.
Some Negative Effects of the Colonization:
- The Egyptians lost a lot of their culture because of the colonization. The way they ran their government went hand in hand with their religion, so taking that away also took away parts of their religious beliefs.
- Egypt was in a serious financial crisis whenever Britain took over, and once Britain allowed Egypt to become an independent country, the people were already in such distress that it left not only their economy weak, but their government as well.
- During the imperialistic era, Egyptian women and men were treated equally. Women could get divorces or not even get married if they wanted to. They could own property, inherit family money/land, and if they got into legal trouble, they went to court and could defend themselves just like men.
- In current day, women still have many rights. They can vote, are an important part of the workforce, and there are even two women in the Egyptian cabinet. However, women cannot become judges, travel abroad without permission from their husbands, and it's difficult for them to get divorces. Although there are laws against it, the legal system fails to properly protect women from violence. In 2008, it was reported that 83% of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed.
- Children were an
important part of life in Egypt. They were taught to be respectful and to know how to
control the family business for when their elders died. In order to make it to
the afterlife, you had to have a light heart, so Egyptians wanted to lead
honest, kind lives and do good deeds in order to achieve this.
- In current day, children aren't respected as highly as before. Only recently have laws been passed to allow children born out of wedlock to go to school and have healthcare, to make female genital mutilation illegal, and to raise the legal age of marriage to eighteen. The Not Alone program was created to help children who are fatherless and/or in poverty. The program's goal is to break the cycle of violence and poverty and to help keep kids in school, especially young girls who are often pulled out to be married.
- During the imperialistic era, most of the people were completely in sync with each other. Foreign religions and ways of thinking were completely tolerated, as long as they didn't lead to violent end results.
- In current day, Egyptians don't have freedom of speech/expression/the press. If a person publishes something that goes against the government, they can be put into prison or the authorities can beat them. There is always an ongoing war between the Muslim Egyptians and the Christian Egyptians, that often results in violence on both sides.
- In Ancient Egypt, the pharaoh was the leader and he was chosen because of the royal family he belonged to. No one ever revolted against the pharaoh because he was like a god on earth and the people didn't want to go against the gods; they wanted to properly follow them.
- In current day there are elections held for the citizens to vote for their leaders, rather than the leaders already be chosen because of their blood. If citizens wish to protest any kind of political action, however, they can get arrested and/or beaten by the police if they happen to be protesting outside in the streets.
Human Effects of War:
- During the imperialistic era, Egypt wasn't ever in many wars and if they were, they were usually was an all or nothing war; no prisoners or slaves were taken. On rare occasions whenever the war wasn't as bloody, and prisoners were taken captive, they became slaves of the more higher class Egyptians.
- In current day, border control will kill migrants trying to leave Egypt. Refugees returned to Egypt are imprisoned in military jail, and are possibly subject to ill-treatment and torture.
- Cairo is one of the fastest growing and largest cities in the world. There are is currently immense amounts of air pollution and water pollution, such as many oil spills from the large factories. The Aswan High Dam blocks the fertile silt from the flooding of the Nile onto the farm land, which stops the soil from being replenished by the fertile silt. Approximately 1,500 villages discharge their wastes to the Nile River and 35 large factories discharge 125 million cubic meters of drainage water loaded with fertilizers and pesticides into the Nile every year.
Members of the United Nations, I am here to speak to you on behalf of the nation of Egypt. Great Britain’s declaration of making Egypt a protectorate colony in 1882 after fighting France for the spot was just the beginning of a long line of unfortunate events in the history our country. Before Britain invaded Egypt, it was a humble state that stayed generally peaceful with the other nations around it. Egypt traded using the Nile River and accomplished spectacular works such as the pyramids and hieroglyphics.
Once Britain landed on our soil, the economy and the social status of Egypt went downhill from there. Egypt had already been in a state of financial turmoil when Great Britain took over, and though Egypt got loans from foreign nations, we never managed to make up that debt. To this day, the unemployment rate in Egypt is outrageous and most manufacturing plants and factories are owned by the state. Great Britain conquered Egypt simply because it saw that Egypt was a convenient spot for trade, and sought to make money off of using the Nile. Britain did bring tourists and a better working government formation to Egypt, but those were the only two main benefits we gained from the imperial nation. After Britain allowed Egypt to become our own country, everything began to fall apart again. The economy never did go back to the flourishing state it had been before Britain took over and Egypt had to go through many wars with other countries and a civil war in order to fix its corrupted government; and the government still to this day is in an uproar. Riots fill the streets and people are beaten by authorities because our government is too busy worrying about the economy to properly watch over its law enforcement. Not only is Egypt under social and economic distress, but there are immense amounts of air and water pollution. 125 million cubic meters of drainage water loaded with fertilizers and pesticides are dumped into the Nile every year, and the Nile is our nation's main source of water.
This social and economic distress and environmental chaos that has followed after Great Britain's conquer of our nation and then our liberation from that control is exactly why I have come to you today. I propose that Egypt receive 50 million dollars and a formal apology from Britain to compensate for the vast amount of turmoil, damage, and complete disorder that our nation has had to suffer through for the past 128 years since Britain first conquered our land. This money would go to purification of the Nile waters, more energy efficient programs for factories, and to go towards paying for the debt Egypt is in. No amount of money or apology can ever undo the happenings of the past, and the people of Egypt know this. We just hope that we can fix somethings in our nation and work towards a better future.
Public Service Announcement
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