Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Monday, July 02, 2012
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Rafik Baladi, Monday, July 02, 2012: Egypt was rediscovered by Sultan Mohammed Ali in AD 1805, the modern Turk; once a subordinate to the Ottoman Empire (for Egypt). He seized Egypt as an independent state. He founded it, then, and united it, so as to rekindle its glorious past, judiciously and, within an avant-garde state of mind. He planned to shift its peoples from passive radical religious fascism to active contributors in the rebuilding of their homeland and, most of all, in order to oblige them (the Egyptians) to lead their lives within modern and healthy systems.
Mohammed Ali instilled their hearts and minds with true aspirations, self esteem and responsibility, for the first time in Egypt’s seven thousand years of history. Mohammed Ali was not Egyptian but he and his dynasty did it, despite their inevitable drawbacks paralleled with unimaginable successes. Then Egypt flourished and flourished and flourished on all levels to the point where it had become the citadel of civilization in Africa, the Mediterranean and Near-East. But the ambitions of Wahabis and foreign colonialism threatened Mohammed Ali and his dynasty then. Mohamed Ali and his Dynasty, coped with it. Alas, today Egypt is being crushed all the way back to more than four thousand years before Christ, by God only knows whom!
Many know historical Egypt as a melting pot for four major heritage pillars: Pharaohs and their thirty dynasties; Jews (Jacob and his sons, the tribes, circa 1900 years B.C. as well as Moses the wise Prophet, circa 1400 B.C.); Egypt the refuge and shelter of the Holy Family (Holy mother Mary, Joseph the Escort and Jesus of Bethlehem, in the first year Advent) and the Egypt of Arab conquests, its rule and its intertwining Muslim civilizations starting from the Arab invasions of Amr Ibn El Assi in AD 641. Of course Egypt is renowned for its three monotheistic faithful peoples: Jews, Christians and Muslims (in historical order).
These are just the main lines of historical Egypt and, the inevitably, religiously vibrant Egypt. Pharaohs were long extinct since the middle of the fourth century before Christ with the first Persian invasion and rule of Egypt until Alexander the Great swept them out of it and took over. In fact, the last Egyptian head of state before the Dynasty of Mohammed Ali was in B.C. 340 circa. (Read Jasmines from Egypt Branches Forever). Just as much, Egypt has struggled to survive various ruthless assaults before and after the last Pharaoh in 340 B.C.: such as by the Hyksos, Persians, Romans and Arab conquests, across the millenniums. This weakened Egypt, her people and economy, a lot. Of course the Greek dynasty of Alexander the Great (in 340 B.C.) and its subsequent Ptolemaic rule had its say, too; a positive one, yet not for long. But that was it; it was short lived and Egypt fell again into the grip of foreign rule, the Romans and, then, the Arabs. And while the west was preparing itself for the European Renaissance in the twelfth century, Egypt was preparing itself for centuries of Maméluke rule and various conflicting Arab trends of diverse shades, seeking power, until 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte assaulted Egypt in Alexandria.
By the time Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798 and engaged in his extensive research for a modern Egypt while deciphering its earlier glories, with the help of his Savants, he was soon obliged to cede power to the British, following the victory of the British navy over him in Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 1803. The French cultural influence continued non-the-less. After that, Egypt found itself shifting from rigid outdated religious rule; it found itself stabilized by both the Napoleonic Code Pénal and a vibrant modern rule under the Royal dynasty of Sultan Mohammed Ali that rekindled the lustre of Egypt’s agriculture, industrialization, military, trade, education, art, music and theatre (let alone the reconstruction of the glorious and strategic Suez Canal).
He (Mohammed Ali) founded modern Egypt in AD 1805, as such. At the same time, Egypt was heading for over a century of British rule as well as one hundred and fifty years of interaction with British and French post-renaissance culture. In 1855, Mohamed Said, fourth son to Sultan Mohamed Ali, concluded an agreement with the French to build the Suez Canal, hence reviving a similar canal that was first built, under Pharaoh Senusret the Third, circa 1900 years B.C. (Please click to order and read a preview of Jasmines from Egypt Branches Forever) or order from your bookstore.
In AD 1869, Khedive Ismail sealed the deal with French Engineer Ferdinand Delesseps and opened the new Suez Canal while inaugurating the Historical Opera of Cairo to cross-market both the Canal and Egypt, as a whole, to the world. And it worked! But in 1954 the one hundred and fifty years vibrant rule of the Egyptian Monarchy, came to an end and so did the British troops evacuate Egypt and the French and British cultural institutions (amongst others), shrink to nil. This was due to the ousting of King Farouk, traditionally, the last of the Royal dynasty of Mohamed Ali. He was ousted by the military Freedom Fighters of Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Ever since that day, the Egyptian military prevailed in Egypt’s affairs. And then hell broke loose for the sake of the strategic Suez Canal claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands in a series of wars and worldwide espionage tactics, starting in 1954 until this day in 2012.
Today, with the ambiguous shift of a glamorous Egypt to a hard headed multilayered clerical rule, a narrow minded and a helpless mainstream Egypt (of all faiths) created over the last thirty years, together with a dark complicated ensemble of international political ambitions, Egypt is shaken. It is staggering again, just like it did across the centuries thanks to the fierce plight of the world for its famous and strategic Suez Canal. It is the Egypt that was once founded in AD 1805 by Sultan Mohammad Ali; the Egypt that was capable of rekindling the beautiful but dissonant main lines of its heritage, cohesively. It is the Egypt that had become a magnet, around AD 1880, for hundreds of thousands of Jewish, Greek, Belgian, Austrian, German and Italian migrations (amongst others) from Europe to its land. These were migrations that nurtured the Egypt we experienced, economically and culturally. But, alas, it has fallen to a new cruel tunnel. It is a tunnel of darkness, capable of extinguishing not only the Egypt of the last two hundred years that had revived and regulated its thousands of years of history in a lovely moulding pot, but also of wiping away all of its past seven thousand years of glory.
Reminiscing the last two hundred years of the Egyptian glorious tree, is not romanticizing it; it is mourning the unfair destruction of its solid and stable branches (though, frequently, corrupt). It is lamenting the withering hopes and aspirations of its fruits, only to feed the whims and ambitions of some invasive political, religious and financial powers. It is watching, helplessly, the reaction of millions of non-educated, passive and irresponsible Egyptians who choose to yield their world and heritage to promises for a “…better life” instead of seeking to attain it, on their own, with some minimum contribution to reach their objectives, interdependently, while complying with law and order and while committing some respect to social justice and tolerance of the present and past fellow Egyptians. Listen to Egypt Mon Amour by Rafik Baladi or download it here.