Egypt Timeline


Key Dates

1798 - Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, followed by French occupation for a few years. The French were eventually driven out by
Egyptian, Ottoman, and British forces.

19th Century - Characterized by the ruler-ship of the Ottoman Empire, however, during this time Egypt was still able to maintain a large
degree of self-rule.

1804 - 1848 - Muhammad Ali's ruler-ship of Egypt.

1919 - After an Egyptian uprising against the British, Egypt came to be considered a semi-independent state.

1956 - Egypt was attacked by Britain, France, and Israel. These attacking forces were subsequently ejected from Egypt by United
States intervention.

The Influence and Impact of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was an Albanian official within the Ottoman Empire. In the course of his service to the Ottoman Empire, he was sent to Egypt. From this post of power and pr

estige, Ali began to build himself a dynasty. Orders from the Ottoman regime dictated that he establish Ottoman rule in the region. In liquidating local forces and the military elite in the guise of Ottoman service, Ali was able to consolidate his own power and pave the way for his supreme authority.

Ali began his role as ruler by consulting with European experts in order to develop his military and his newly-formed Empire. To build up his military he instituted the conscription of the fellahin, or the peasant agricultural laborers of the region. To replace the officials that he had ousted, he sent Egyptians to Europe in order to learn new technologies, languages and bureaucratic devices. This created a new class of Egyptian bureaucrats and military personnel. Ali also began industrializing Egypt in an effort to meet the European challenge. This effort was termed defensive development and included monopolization of cotton production and the building of factories to produce textiles.

Over the course of his life in power, Ali created a powerful dynasty, one that was carried on by his sons. He saw Egypt through great victories such as the conquest of Syria in the 1830s. But the seeds of revolution that were sown in Ali's overthrow of both the former leadership and the incoming Ottoman powers left the most impact on the Egyptian people. The impact of Ali's actions ultimately led to the uprising that gained Egypt her freedom.

external image history-of-egypt0.gif
This map shows the empire made by Muhammad Ali and his descendants, the area in light and dark green, in relation to modern day Egypt, outlined in red.

Anwar al-Sadat

Anwar al-Sadat was the president of Egypt from 1970 and 1981. He reversed Egypt's allegiance in the Cold War from being a friend of the Soviet Union to more friendly towards the west when he expelled the Soviets from Egypt. Then in 1973 Egypt attacked Israel in the Sinai. This attack changed the momentum in Egypt and Israel towards peace.

This move towards peace eventually led to the Camp David Accords which ended in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty bringing peace and mutual recognition of the nations by the other.

At home however Sadat's policies were not so successful. He started a program of economic liberalization called infitah, or opening up. This was a mixture of free market policies and Arab socialism, blending a strong public sector with incentives for private enterprises. When he tried to lower state welfare programs as part of this opening up massive riots broke out and bread riots threatened the stability of the regime leading to an increase of support for the Islamic opposition.

In 1981 he was assassinated by an Islamist who opposed the peace treaty he brokered with the Israelis.

Egypt as seen in...

...A Child from the Village

Sayyid Qutb’s A Child From the Village offers a window into the life of agriculturalist/rural Egyptians in the early 1900s. This work is key to the understanding of this region of the Middle East, as 80-90% of people lived in rural settings in the early 20th century.
The social structure of Musha, Egypt, was largely based upon religion and religious traditions.

The chapter “Magzub” illustrates the folk/popular religious practices that were practiced and believed. The particular magzub from Qutb's village was a "touched" individual that exhibited unpredictable, antisocial behavior. In general, however, the magzub are considered to be men that have partaken of "spiritual medicine." Each magzub is a "wali," collectively the "awliya," or "friends of god." These men are the equivalent of the Christian "saint," yet they walk among the common people and belong in the present, not merely the past. The people of the town also believe in ifrit, or demons, which possess people or things.

Qutb's town relied heavily on ancestral and filial connections for the endowment of respect and designation of authority and political positions. Even gangs or individuals seeking to fulfill a vendetta adhered to the unwritten laws that dictated how certain individuals were to be treated in respect to their kin connections. The majority of the power, prestige, and preference was granted to males; only females of great wealth were afforded more power. Also belonging to the upper ranks of society were the 'umda, a mayor-like figure, and the effendis, the new class of people fortunate enough to have been educated in Cairo. Qutb himself eventually joined the ranks of the effendis.

Women in Egypt, 1952-1980s

A tremendous transformation in the lives of Egyptian women takes place between the beginning of the age of Nasser and the 1980s. Women get the vote, official policy is aimed at widening their access to education and to jobs. During the 1950s and 1960s, the veil practically disappears from the streets of Cairo. But, after the 1967 defeat and the liberalization and pro-American policies pursued by Nasser's successor, Anwar Sadat, there is a dramatic change. For many reasons, women begin to wear the veil again. These issues and others are explored in a chapter from Leila Ahmed's Women and Gender in Islam titled "". Read this in preparation for viewing "On Boys, Girls, and the Veil".