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Anti-French protest movement in Egypt in 1798-1801

Prousskaïa Evguenia

   Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign (1798-1801) was the first serious attempt to conquer Middle Eastern possession of the Ottoman sultan, taken by the European power – France. However, this attempt was not successful, not only because the sultan received military support from France’s eternal rival – the Great Britain, but also because the invaders faced strong protest movement of the local population. An example of the French conquest of Egypt is particularly notable because of the fact that the conquerors and the local population belonged to different and so dissimilar civilizations – the European and the Arab-Muslim one. And if the Europeans saw the expedition in terms of the concept of «civilization», considering that its aim was to civilize the locals, the Arab-Muslim population perceived it in the context of old confrontation between the Christians and the Muslims. The author analyses the various forms of mass protest movements against the French occupation: riots in the Delta, two uprisings in Cairo (October 1798 and March 1800), the rebellion of Amir al-Hadj and revolt of «mahdi» in Damanhur (April-June 1799), as well as the evolution of the relations between the occupiers and the locals throughout the whole period of the expedition. In most cases, riots and rebellions against the French broke out spontaneously because of the general hatred of the locals towards the occupants and their policy. The French could only struggle against the uprisings by the brutal suppression of these manifestations, the imposition of heavy contributions or the conclusion of alliances with sheiks of the tribes and the Mamelukes.

Keywords: Egyptian campaign of Bonaparte (1798-1801), mass protest movement, clash of civilizations.
Link: Prousskaïa E. Anti-French protest movement in Egypt in 1798-1801 // Annuaire d'études françaises 2016: Les révoltes à l'époque de la Révolution française et du Premier Empire / Annual of French Studies 2016: The Popular Insurrections in the Age of the French Revolution and the First Empire.М. P. 125-144.