Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rethinking foreign occupation

4 October 2009 in Featured Blogumnist, Morris Sadek
Many scholars criticized the foreign occupation of Egypt during the past 200 years. However, I suggest looking at the occupation from a different perspective. I believe the occupation helped in building Egypt’s infrastructure and established the science of Egyptology.
When Napoleon arrived in Cairo, he brought with him a wide array of engineers and archaeologists. After the three years that he spent in Cairo, the city would never again be the same Oriental town that it had been. The French left a legacy that is written all over the European parts of Cairo. Their tastes were mainly of a French middle-class influence and desire. The French invasion of Egypt also had an important effect because of the publication of Description de l’Egypte, which detailed the findings of the scholars and scientists who had accompanied Napoleon to Egypt. This publication became the foundation of modern research into the history, society and economics of Egypt.
In 1875, Egypt had its first civil legal system when the government succeeded in establishing the Mixed Courts. These courts had jurisdiction in civil cases involving Egyptians and foreigners, or foreigners of different nationalities, and had both foreign and Egyptian judges, who administered judicial codes based on French law. By that time, the social consequences of the agrarian and political changes inaugurated by Muhammad Alī were clearly appearing. The projects of the Suez Canal as well as the first Egyptian railroads were almost completed.
The impact of western values and principles on the Egyptian “Eastern” society was clearly manifested in the way Egyptians think and behave. They began drawing their ideas from not only Islamic and Eastern traditions, but also western sources and schools of thought.

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