is based on Egyptians
and Egyptian culture
Egyptian nationalism has typically been a civic nationalism
that has emphasized the loyalty to Egypt
and unity of Egyptians regardless of their ethnicity
. Egyptian nationalism first manifested itself in Pharaonism beginning in the 19th century that identified Egypt as being a unique and independent political unit in the world since the era of the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. It is against Arabism which came into Egypt with Egyptian King Farouk
in 1945 and later heavily promoted by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser
The Great Sphinx
and the pyramids of Giza
are among the most recognizable symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt. They remain important cultural symbols of Egypt.
The flag of Egyptian nationalist revolutionaries during the Egyptian Revolution of 1919
. It displays both the Islamic Crescent representing Muslim Egyptians and the Christian cross representing Christian Egyptians.
Both the Arabic language
spoken in modern Egypt and the ancient Egyptian language
are Afroasiatic languages
The rule of Muhammad Ali of Egypt
led Egypt into an advanced level of socioeconomic development in comparison with Egypt's neighbours, which along more discoveries of relics of ancient Egyptian civilization, helped boosting Egyptian nationalism.
The Urabi movement in the 1870s and 1880s was the first major Egyptian nationalist movement that demanded an end to the alleged despotism of the Muhammad Ali family and demanded curbing the growth of European influence in Egypt, it campaigned under the nationalist slogan of "Egypt for Egyptians".
Egyptian Renaissance Statue by Omar Mokhtar, Representing a Woman next to a Sphynx, "Descendants protecting their Ancestors".
One of the key figures in opposing British rule was the Egyptian Jewish journalist Yaqub Sanu
whose cartoons from 1870s onward satirizing first the Khedive, Ismail the Magnificent, and then Egypt's British rulers as bumbling buffoons were very popular in the 19th century.  Sanu was the first to write in Egyptian Arabic, which was intended to appeal to a mass audience, and his cartoons could be easily understood by even the illiterate.  Sanu had established the newspaper Abu-Naddara Zarqa, which was the first newspaper to use Egyptian Arabic on March 1877. One of his cartoons mocked Ismail the Magnificent for his fiscal extravagance which caused Egypt's bankruptcy in 1876, leading Ismail, who did not appreciate the cartoon, to order his arrest.  Sanu fled to Paris, and continued to publish Abu-Naddara Zarqa
there, with its issues being smuggled into Egypt until his death in 1912..
Egyptian Nationalist women holding the Egyptian flag in protest against the British occupation.
Opposed to the British occupation of his homeland, Sanu from 1882 drew cartoons which depicted the British as "red locusts" devouring all of Egypt's wealth, leaving nothing behind for the Egyptians.
Though banned in Egypt, Abu-Naddara Zarqa
was a very popular underground newspaper with Sanu's cartoons being especially popular.
Other cartoons drawn by Saunu with captions in Arabic and French depicted La Vieux Albion
(England) as a hideous hag together with her even more repulsive son John Bull, who was always shown as an ignorant, uncouth and drunken bully pushing around ordinary Egyptians.
Sanu's Egyptian nationalism was based on loyalty to Egypt as a state and geographic entity as he presented Egypt as a tolerant place where Muslims, Christians and Jews were all united by a common love of al-watan
Against the claim made by British officials like Lord Cromer who claimed the British occupation of Egypt was necessary to protect Egypt's Jewish and Christian minorities from the Muslim majority, Sanu wrote that as an Egyptian Jew he did not feel threatened by the Muslim majority, saying in a speech in Paris "The Quran is not a book of fanaticism, superstition or barbarity."
After the British occupation of Egypt in 1882, Egyptians became focused upon ending British colonial rule.
They had support from Liberals and Socialists in Britain. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt
was a leading critic of British imperialism in Africa, as expressed in three widely circulated books: The Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt...
(1907), Gordon at Khartoum
(1911), and My Diaries: Being a Personal Narrative of Events, 1888-1914
(2 vols. 1919-20). Historian Robert O. Collins says:
The most vigorous English advocate of Egyptian Independence, Blunt was both arrogant and irascible, his works scathing, discursive, and at times utterly ridiculous. Immature and unfair, both he and his writings must be used with caution, but even the dullest of men will come away stimulated if not aroused and with fresh insights to challenge the sometimes smug attitudes of British officials in Whitehall and Cairo. Of course, to them Blunt was anathema if not disloyal and Edward Malet
, the British Consul-General at Cairo from 1879 to 1883, replied to Blunt's charges in his posthumously published Egypt, 1879-1883
Mustafa Kamil Pasha
, A leading Egyptian Nationalist of the early 20th century, was greatly influenced by the example of Meiji Japan as an 'Eastern' state that had successfully modernized for Egypt and from the time of the Russian-Japanese war
consistently urged in his writings that Egypt emulate Japan. Kamil was also a Francophile like most educated Egyptians of his generation, and the French republican values of liberté, égalité, fraternité
influenced his understanding of what it meant to be Egyptian as Kamil defined the Egyptian Identity in terms of loyalty to Egypt.  Kamil together with other Egyptian nationalists helped to redefine loyalty to al-watan ("the homeland") in terms stressing the importance of education, nizam (order), and love of al-watan, implicitly criticizing the state created by Mohammad Ali the Great, which was run on very militarist lines.  After the Entene Cordial
of 1904 ended hopes of French support for Egyptian independence, a disillusioned Kamil looked east towards Japan as a model, defining Egypt as an "Eastern" country occupied and exploited by "Western" Great Britain, and suggested in terms that anticipated later Third World nationalism that Egyptians had more in common with people from other places occupied by the Western nations such as India (modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) and the Netherlands East Indies (modern Indonesia) than they did with the nations of Europe.
Egyptian Nationalism reached its peak in popularity in 1919 when revolution against British rule took place in response to wartime deprivations imposed by the British upon Egypt during World War I
.  Three years of protest and political turmoil followed until Britain unilaterally declared the independence of Egypt in 1922 that was a monarchy, though Britain reserved several areas for British supervision. During the period of the Kingdom of Egypt
, Egyptian Nationalists remained determined to terminate the remaining British presence in Egypt.  One of the more celebrated cases of Egyptian Nationalism occurred in December 1922 when the Egyptian government laid claim to the treasures found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun
, which had been discovered by a British archaeologist Howard Carter in November 1922, arguing that they belonged to Egypt and Carter could not take them to Britain as he planned. The dispute finally led to the Egyptians posting an armed guard outside of Tutankhamun's tomb to prevent Carter from entering it.  In February 1924, the Egyptian government seized control of the tomb and with it all of the artifacts found there, saying that they belonged to Egypt.  On 6 March 1924, the Prime Minister Saad Zaghloul
formally opened to Tutankamun's tomb to the Egyptian public in an elaborate ceremony held at night with the sky lit up by floodlights, which reportedly attracted the largest crowd seen in Luxor.  The reopening turned into an anti-British demonstration when the British High Commissioner, Field Marshal Allenby, arrived when the crowd demanding immediate British withdrawal from Egypt.  The dispute over who owned King Tutankhamun's treasures took place against the backdrop of a movement in the Egyptian intelligentsia known as Pharaonism which extolled ancient Egypt as a national symbol and portrayed Egypt as a Mediterranean nation with links to south Europe (Greece and Rome) than the near east (Middle East).
Though Arab nationalism
rose as a political force in the 1930s, there remained a strong regional attachment to Egypt by those who advocated cooperation with Arab or Muslim neighbors.  Traditionally, the term "Arab" had a derogatory meaning in Egypt despite the fact that 90% of Egyptians speak Arabic as their first language, as Egyptians tended to view people from Arab [Gulf
] countries as backward, ignorant and crude.  Egyptian Nationalists in the early 20th century opposed to the idea of Egypt becoming part of a pan-Arab state.  Saad Zaghloul, the founder of the Wafd Party
, was hostile towards pan-Arabism, saying: "If you add one zero to another, and then to another, what sum will you get?", Another leading Egyptian Nationalist Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed
said in a quote
"Our Egyptian identity dictates that our homeland is our heart, and that we honor ourselves and honor our homeland, and do not attribute ourselves to another nation. Egypt for Egyptians, We want the Egyptian homeland and be jealous and protective over it, Like Turkish jealousy over his homeland, and the English over his nationalism. And to stress that belonging to Egypt is a great honor. Historically, Egypt will remain a country of civilization and it has natural and historical wealth that guarantees its advancement whenever its people are generous, so they restore its honor and elevate it to the glory of their first forefathers."
Pan-Arab nationalists, who in the early 20th century tended to be Christians from the Levant, usually excluded Egypt from their planned nation under the grounds that: "Egyptians do not belong to the Arab race"
.  The nationalistic and fascistic Young Egyptian Society in the 1930s led by Ahmed Hussein advocated British withdrawal from Egypt and the Sudan, and promised to unite the Arab world under the leadership of Egypt, through the Young Egyptian Society made it clear in the proposed empire, it was Egypt that would dominate, as it was later seen with the brief unification with Syria in 1958.  At the same time, "Pharaohism" was condemned by Hassan al-Banna
, the founder and Supreme Guide of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, as glorifying a period of jahiliyyah ("barbarous ignorance"), which is the Islamic term for the pre-Islamic past.  In a 1937 article, Banna dismissed "Pharaohism" for glorying the "pagan reactionary Pharaohs" like Akhenaten
, Ramesses II
the Great and Tutankhamun
instead of the Prophet Mohammad
and his companions and for seeking to "annihilate" Egypt's Muslim identity.
In January 1952, British forces attacked a police station leaving around 50 people dead. The capital of Egypt, Cairo, overflowed with British anti-violence in a riot on 26 January 1952 known as the "Black Saturday" riot. The Black Saturday riots led to the development of the Free Officer movement, consisting of a thousand “middle-level” officers, overthrowing King Farouk. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952
that overthrew the monarchy and established a republic, Gamal Abdel Nasser
rose to power on themes that mixed Arab and Egyptian nationalism.  Nasser saw Egypt as the leader of the Arab states and saw Egypt's role as promoting Arab solidarity against both the West and Israel.  Nasser's first priority was end subordination to Britain which meant most urgently the removal of British bases privileges and acquire greater control over the Suez Canal
In 1952 Nasser produced a work that was half autobiographical and half programmatic entitled The Philosophy of the Revolution
.  It offers and account to how he and other officers who overthrew the monarchy on July 23 of that year came to a decision to seize power and how they planned to use their newly won power.  Under Nasser, Egypt's Arab identity was greatly played up, and Nasser promoted a policy of pan-Arabism, arguing that all of the Arab peoples should be united together in a single state under his leadership. Egypt was briefly united with Syria under the name the United Arab Republic from 1958 until 1961 when Syria abandoned the union. Nasser saw himself as the successor of Mohammad Ali the Great, the illiterate Albanian tobacco merchant turned Ottoman vali (governor) of Egypt, who had sought to found a new dynasty to rule the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.  Nasser came to embrace pan-Arabism as the best way of justifying a greater Egypt that would stretch from the Atlantic to Indian oceans.
After the War of 1967, Nasser started to downplay pan-Arab nationalism, and instead promoted an "Egypt first" policy, a policy that was continued by his successor Sadat who took the "Egypt first" policy far further than Nasser had been prepared to go. In March 1969, Nasser began the War of Attrition with Israel, a policy of launching air raids, artillery bombardments and commando raids intended to make the Sini too costly for Israel to hold, and which led Israel to retaliate likewise with its own air raids, artillery bombardments and commando raids into Egypt.  The War of Attrition turned the cities of the Suez Canal into ghost towns, Egyptian military expenditure consumed a quarter of the national income while Egypt was deprived of the revenue from the Suez Canal tolls.  After the Israeli Air Force began bombing the cities in the Nile river valley in late 1969, Nasser forced the Soviet Union to deploy its air defense units to Egypt in January 1970 by threatening to resign in favor of a pro-American politician. Through the Soviet forces had arrived in Egypt to assist with the War of Attrition, for many ordinary Egyptians it was a humiliating reminder of Naser's inability to counter the Israeli Air Force. The War of Attrition period of 1969-70 was a period of rapidly falling living standards in Egypt and Israel that led many ordinary Egyptians to complain that Egypt's role as the champion of Arab nationalism led to a seemingly endless confrontation with Israel whose costs were too high. In August 1970, Nasser ended the War of Attrition by signing a ceasefire with Israel, and in September 1970 hosted a pan-Arab summit to end the Black September war in Jordan. When Nasser was criticized for signing a ceasefire with Israel by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, he exploded in rage:
"You issue statements, but we have to fight. If you want to liberate, then get in line in front of us...but we have learnt caution after 1967 and after the Yemenis dragged us into their affairs in 1967 and the Syrians into war in 1967"
A group of Israeli prisoners of war captured during the Yom Kippur War
Nasser's successors, Anwar Sadat
and Hosni Mubarak
de-emphasized Arab nationalism and re-emphasized Egyptian nationalism based on Egypt's distinctiveness within the Arab world. Sadat upon taking office in 1970 announced that his first policy would be "Egypt first", saying quite openly that Egyptian national interests would take precedence over pan-Arab goals.  In December 1970, Sadat announced in a speech that Egypt would be willing to make peace with Israel provided the latter returned the Sinai peninsula, making no mention of the West Bank, Gaza Strip or the Golan Heights. Sadat in a speech said "They [Arabs] want to liberate Palestine till the last Egyptian soldier's blood"
 In June 1972, Sadat expelled all of the Soviet forces in Egypt, a move which was very popular with the Egyptian people as he announced that Egypt could now defend its air space on its own. After the 1973 October War had boosted his image and the Egyptian army's image in Egypt,
Sadat began a wholesale attack on Nasser's legacy, including his Pan-Arabist policies, which were portrayed as having dragged Egypt into poverty, a long grinding war in Yemen, and subservience to the Soviet Union. In contrast to the secularist Nasser, Sadat began a policy of playing up Egypt's Muslim identity, having the constitution amended in 1971 to say that Sharia law was "a main source of all state legislation" and in 1980 to say that Sharia law was the main source of all legislation which ended up as very controversial in Egypt and many opposed it, although over time Egypt would become more conservatives following the discovery of oil in Gulf states which led to Egyptians going their for work and returning with an extremally conservative ideology "Wahhabism
". Through Sadat was not an Islamic fundamentalist, under his rule Islam started to be portrayed as the cornerstone of Egyptian national identity.  Sadat had chosen to launch what Egyptians call the Ramadan/October War in 1973 during the holy month of Ramadan and the code-name for the initial assault on the Israeli Bar Lev Line
on the Suez Canal was Operation Badr
, after the Prophet Mohammad's first victory, both gestures that would have been unthinkable under Nasser as Sadat chose to appeal to Islamic feelings.  Sadat and Mubarak also abandoned Nasser's Arab nationalist conflict with Israel and the West.  At times, Sadat chose to engage in "Pharaohism" as when he arranged for the mummy of Ramses the Great to be flown to Paris for restoration work in 1974, he insisted that the coffin carrying his corpse be greeted at Charles de Gaulle airport
in France with a 21-gun salute as befitting a head of state.  However, He also reportedly remarked in private that "Egyptian kings are not be made a spectacle of" after being asked by Islamic sensibilites to close the Mummy's room.
The Arab Spring
in Egypt in 2011 that forced the resignation of Mubarak from power and resulted in dual-party elections, has raised questions over the future of Egyptian nationalism.  In particular the previous secular regimes of Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak avoided direct religious conflicts between the majority Muslims and the minority Coptic Christians through their emphasis on secular Egyptian nationalist culture, while concerns have been raised on whether this Egyptian nationalist culture will remain with the political changes caused by the Arab Spring. This has especially become an issue after a series of episodes of Muslim-Christian violence erupted in Egypt in 2011. In 2015, a surprise hit on Egyptian television was Harat al-Yehud, which was set in Cairo's Jewish quarter in 1948, and was noted as being the first time that Egyptian Jews were portrayed in a favorable light, instead of the villains that have normally portrayed as since the 1950s. 
The Pharaoh's Golden Parade banner
Later on, as President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi
took power in 2013 following popular protests demanding then Islamist President Mohamed Morsi
to step down, it became evident that El-Sisi was re-engaging in Egyptian nationalism, asserting that Egyptian culture and identity stem their roots back to the era of the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. It has also become evident in his foreign policy that Egypt acts from an Egypt-centered, pragmatic view. Unlike El-Sisi's predecessors who held the belief that Egyptians are Arabs. The Egyptian Government has spent billions on renovating ancient monuments, excavations, and encouraging foreigners to visit Egypt, particularly to visit the Ancient Egyptian monuments. On the 3rd of April 2021, the government staged a massive parade named "The Pharaoh's Golden Parade
" to move Egypt's former 22 kings and queens from the old Egyptian Museum
in Tahrir Square
to the new and modern National Museum of Egyptian Civilization
which was received incredibly well amongst Egyptians.
During the parade, a list of chants were sung from the "Book of the Dead
" and the "Pyramids Texts
" and a lyrics of the song "A Reverence for Isis
" were taken from the inscriptions on the walls of the Deir el-Shwlwit
temple in Luxor
. These chants were sung in native Egyptian language
. The Pharaohs were also given a 21-gun salute
by the Egyptian Republican Guard upon their arrival to the New National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
- ^ David P. Silverman. Ancient Egypt. New York, New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 1997. p. 234.
- ^ Robert O. Collins, "Egypt and the Sudan" in Robin W. Winks, ed., The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources (Duke U.P. 1966) p 282. The Malet book is online
- ^ Hunt, Michael H. (2004). The World Transformed: 1945 to the present. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 284. ISBN 9780199371020.
- Fahamy, Ziad (2008). "Francophone Egyptian Nationalists, Anti-British Discourse, and European Public Opinion, 1885-1910: The Case of Mustafa Kamil and Ya'qub Sannu". Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 28 (1): 170–183.
- Karsh, Efraim (2006). Islamic Imperialism A History. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10603-3.
- Laffan, Michael (1999). "Mustafa and the Mikado: A Francophile Egyptian's turn to Meiji Japan". Japanese Studies. 19 (3): 269–286.
- Motyl, Alexander J. (2001). Encyclopedia of Nationalism, Volume II. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-227230-7.
- Lin Noueihed, Alex Warren. The Battle for the Arab Spring: Revolution, Counter-Revolution and the Making of a New Era. Yale University Press, 2012.
- Parkinson, Brian (2008). "Tutankhamen on Trial: Egyptian Nationalism and the Court Case for the Pharaoh's Artifacts". The Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. 44: 1–8.
- Wood, Michael (1998). "The Use of the Pharaonic Past in Modern Egyptian Nationalism". The Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. 35: 179–196.
Last edited on 9 June 2021, at 00:26
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