Between 1877-1907, the British Proconsul-general for the British occupation of Egypt, was Everlyn Baring (aka Lord Cromer). After militarily occupying Egypt on the false pretext to help settle its financial problems, Britain implemented a complete reformation of Egyptian institutions, and began a policy of re-education of Egyptians and re-construction of Egypt into a form that would fit British interests after British withdrawal. Lord Cromer wrote in detail of his experience in 1916 in his book ‘Modern Egypt’. In the book he discusses quite revealingly a lot about British project for Egypt, as well as his observations – quotes from which have been presented below.
Britain would not allow Egypt to govern itself according to Islam
It is absurd to suppose Europe will look on as a passive spectator whilst the retrograde government based on purely Muhammadan principles and oriental ideas [i.e Islam], is established in Egypt. The material interests at stake are too important …the new generation of Egyptians has to be persuaded or forced into imbibing the true spirit of Western civilisation
Introducing Western Ideas and Values under the guise of rights for Women
The position of women in Egypt, and Mohammedan countries generally, is, therefore a fatal obstacle to the attainment of that elevation of thought and character which should accompany the introduction of Western civilisation
While Lord Cromer was telling the Muslims ‘the position of women in Egypt, and Mohammedan countries’ compared to men, he was a member and one-time president of the UK ‘Men’s League for Opposing the Suffrage of Women’ campaigning AGAINST giving British women the vote.
When the West talks about Liberating Muslim women, it has never been about a sincere concern for Muslim women, but rather just using another angle to breakdown obstacles against the Muslim resistance to Secular and Liberal values and morality. Segregate men and women into single-gender schools, segregate toilets, sports and athletics – but do not do so for religious reasons and the West considers it ‘oppressive’.
The Colonial Project for influencing Islamic Thought to create Western Political Systems in the Muslim World
Lord Cromer assisted the Liberal ‘reformer’ Muhammed Abduh in becoming Chief Mufti of Egypt in 1899, and described him as
They are the natural allies of the European reformer. Egyptian patriots sua si bona norint— will find in the advancement of the followers of Mohammed Abdu the best hope that they may gradually carry out their programme of creating a truly autonomous Egypt
Lord Cromer explained what he meant by ‘autonomy’ for Egypt:
Consider what is generally meant by Europeans when they talk of Egyptian self-government. If they meant that the Egyptians should be allowed to govern themselves according to their own rude lights, the task of educating them in the art of self-government would not merely have been easy ; there would have been no necessity that it should have been undertaken. The indigenous art of self- government had already been acquired in 1882, and we know with what results ; no European instruction would have been able to improve on its recognised canons. What Europeans mean when they talk of Egyptian self-government is that the Egyptians, far from being allowed to follow the bent of their own unreformed propensities, should only be permitted to govern themselves after the fashion in which Europeans think they ought to be governed
The British Creation of a new ruling Elite class of Secular ‘Muslims’ to govern Egypt
The truth is that, in passing through the European educational mill, the young Egyptian Moslem loses his Islamism..
But inasmuch as Egyptian society is in a state of flux, the natural result has been to produce a class of individuals many of whom are, at the same time, de-moslemised Moslems and inveterate Europeans.
In dealing with the question of introducing European civilisation into Egypt, it should never be forgotten that Islam cannot be reformed ; is to say, reformed Islam is Islam no longer ; something else
Therefore, to the dis-qualifications of his competitors, the Europeanised Egyptian naturally becomes, if not the only possible, at all events the principal agent for administering the country, except ‘in so far as it is administered by Europeans.
The disdain of the Secular Elite ‘Muslims’ for Islam, and their cynical use of religious scholars for their own ends
Nominally, the Europeanised Egyptian is in the majority of cases a Moslem. In reality, he is generally an Agnostic. The gulf between him and the ” Alim ” [Islamic scholar] of the El-Azhar University is as great as between the ” Alim ” and the European. Indeed, it may be doubted whether the gulf is not in reality greater in the former than in the latter case. For a thoughtful European will not only look with interest at the ” Alim ” as the representative of an ancient faith, which contains much that is highly deserving of respect ; he will, if the “Alim” is a worthy specimen of his class, sympathise with him because he is religious, albeit his religion is not that of Christ. The Europeanised Egyptian, on the other hand, will often look on the *’ Alim ” with all the pride of an intellectual parvenu. From the pedestal of his empirical knowledge, he will regard the ” Alim ” as a social derelict, who has to be tolerated, and even occasionally, for political purposes, to be utilised, but who need not be respected.
The intolerance of the Secular Elite ‘Muslims’ for Christians
Although the Europeanised Egyptian is no true Moslem, he is often as intolerant, and sometimes even more intolerant of Christianity than the old orthodox Moslem, who has received no European education. He frequently hates Christians with a bitter hatred, and he does so partly because many of the Christians with whom he has been brought in contact deserve to be hated, and partly because the Christian, in his capacity of being a European, is a rival who occupies positions, which the Europeanised Egyptian thinks he should himself occupy.
The Eventual Reformation of Islam – until its disappearance
It is conceivable that, as time goes on, the Moslems will develop a religion, possibly a pure Deism, which will not be altogether the Islamism of the past and of the present, and which will cast aside much of the teaching of Mohammed, but which will establish a moral code sufficient to hold society together by bonds other than those of unalloyed self-interest. The Europeanised Egyptian, as we now see him, is the first, not the last, word of reformed Moslem society. It is possible that, in course of time, some higher moral and intellectual ideal will be developed.
Cromer viewed Egyptians as backward and sectarian, including Egyptian Coptic Christians
One of the most remarkable traits,” Lane says, ” in the character of the Copts is their bigotry. They bear a bitter hatred to all other Christians, even exceeding that with which the Moslems regard the unbelievers in El-Islam. . . . They are, generally speaking, of a sullen temper, extremely avaricious, and abominable dissemblers ; cringing or domineering according to circumstances. The respectable Copt, to whom I have already acknowledged myself chiefly indebted for the notions which I have obtained respecting the customs of his nation, gives me a most unfavourable account of their character. He avows them to be generally ignorant, deceitful, faithless, and abandoned to the pursuit of worldly gain, and to indulgence in sensual pleasures
Cromer acknowledges some bad habits of Egyptian Muslims maybe European influenced
the cruelty to animals, which so often shocks visitors to Egypt, is no worse than that which may be witnessed amongst Christian nations in the south of Europe, and is probably, as Lane observed in 1835, not a plant of indigenous growth, but is rather due to association with low- class Europeans. The Moslem religion enjoins kindness to animals