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Calls to eliminate Ottoman legacy emerge in Egypt



CAIRO — The months of March and April carry unhappy reminiscences for Egyptians who’re eager to protect Egyptian nationalism. March 30 marked the 504th anniversary of the arrest of Tuman Bay, the final sultan of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt and the final chief of the Egyptian resistance actions towards the Ottoman invasion of Egypt (1517-1914). On April 15, 1517, he was executed by Ottoman Sultan Selim I.

Egyptians, significantly the cultural elite, would write articles in March and April of every 12 months denouncing the Ottoman invasion and the actions of Selim I. This 12 months, Helmy al-Namnam, a former Egyptian minister of tradition, took a sophisticated stance and known as for the necessity to evaluate the manifestations of the Ottoman occupation of Egypt and eliminate some, specifically the utilization of the title Mufti al-Diyar al-Misriyya and solely utilizing the title of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, in addition to altering some road names resembling Selim I Road in Cairo governorate.

Namnam stated in a press assertion March 15 that the phrase “diyar” was utilized by the Ottomans to indicate Egypt as a state below their authority, or “ayala” (the biggest administrative and navy unit within the Ottoman Empire).

Many social media activists reacted to Namnam’s assertion, some even calling for criminalizing using surnames of Turkish origin resembling “pasha” and “bay,” that are titles that Egyptians routinely use of their every day lives.

Wajih Ateeq, a professor of historical past at Cairo College, informed Al-Monitor that many road names and a few villages in Egypt are certainly Turkish in origin, essentially the most well-known of which being al-Uthmaniyah village in al-Gharbiyah, and the streets of al-Mobtidian (that means elementary in Turkish) and Aga Khan (a Turkish-Mughal title that means one of many king’s princes; agha means grasp or prince in Turkish, and khan means king within the Mughal language).

Talking in regards to the origin of the title Mufti al-Diyar al-Misriyya, he stated that the place was identified by this title because the period of the Ottomans, who appointed a mufti for every ayala, however it’s not the official title for the place. He stated the official title has been Grand Mufti of Egypt because the period of Khedive Ismail, who established the Egyptian Dar al-Ifta in 1895 as an unbiased physique from any Ottoman fatwa, after he obtained de facto independence from the Ottoman Caliphate, regardless of his nominal subordination to it.

Ateeq added, “Egypt was ready — in mild of the successive caliphates, such because the Umayyads, Abbasids and Fatimids — to acquire administrative and political independence by the hands of its sultans and rulers, besides through the Ottoman period. This is because of the truth that the Ottomans burdened Egypt with taxes that had been levied in favor of the Elegant Porte in Istanbul to at all times impoverish Egypt and make sure that it could not have the ability to acquire any margin of freedom. Selim I dedicated many massacres, killing over 50,000 Egyptians, in line with some historic references.”

Abdel-Khabir Atta, a professor of political science at Assiut College, informed Al-Monitor that the campaigns calling for eliminating all Turkish manifestations in Egypt, together with road names and titles, should not solely attributable to the historical past of the Ottomans in Egypt but additionally the makes an attempt of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s regime to breed the Ottoman Caliphate in a contemporary approach by imposing its affect on the Arab nations and interfering of their affairs.

The political variations between Egypt and Turkey started when Erdogan condemned the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Turkey’s ally and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, on July 3, 2013, contemplating this a navy coup. Morsi was ousted following well-liked demonstrations, believed to be the biggest within the historical past of Egypt, which demanded early presidential elections.

Relations between Egypt and Turkey additional worsened in 2019 and 2020, resulting from Turkey’s navy intervention in Syria, Iraq and Libya, which Egypt condemned on many events, and due to Turkey’s gasoline drilling actions within the Mediterranean in areas that Egypt thought of a part of Cypriot and Greek financial zones, in line with the agreements delineating the maritime borders between Egypt and the 2 nations signed in 2004 and 2020.

There have been many makes an attempt to vary the Ottoman road names in recent times. In February 2018, Cairo governorate issued a call to vary the title of Salim I Road, since he was a colonizer, in line with the governorate’s assertion; the choice was not applied for unknown causes. In Could 2020, social media activists claimed the road’s title was modified, however Ibrahim Awad, official spokesman for the Cairo governorate, denied the rumors.

Talking in regards to the causes for protecting the title of Salim I Road, a supply within the Basic Courtroom of Cairo Governorate informed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity that the difficulty of adjusting road names is sophisticated as a result of their names must be modified in all official paperwork, together with maps, city planning and the census, along with altering the registered addresses in all of the official information of corporations and faculties and any institutions situated there. He famous that residents would additionally must amend the road title of their place of residence on all their private paperwork and notify all of the involved authorities.

“Randomly altering road names previously has led to many issues for residents who now not obtained judicial notifications and summons or letters from recruitment companies or any authorities company because of altering road names with out notifying all involved events and with out modifying addresses of their private paperwork. That is why the committee involved with figuring out road names in Cairo governorate, which is immediately affiliated with the governor, determined to postpone the implementation of the choice to vary the title of Selim I Road,” the supply famous.

Atta believes that the cultural elites in Egypt would stay dedicated to eliminating the Ottoman legacy in Egyptian tradition and every day life, even when Egypt and Turkey had been to reconcile, as some doubtfully anticipate, “as a result of the elites have turn out to be extra conscious of the hazard of that legacy on Egypt’s identification and unbiased nationality.”

Egyptian-Turkish relations are witnessing a slight enchancment after the Turkish authorities requested Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated channels that broadcast from Turkey to cease airing some political applications that concentrate on criticizing the Egyptian regime. On March 12, Turkish International Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu introduced reopening diplomatic communication channels with Egypt for the primary time since 2013, when the Turkish ambassador was expelled from Cairo.


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