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           In 1956 the Egyptian president Gamal Nasser was greeted by excited crowds on his return to Cairo during the Suez Crisis. The nationalization of the Suez Canal by Nasser in contradiction of British interests was greeted by the Egyptians as the first assertion of national pride for millennia.  For centuries the Muslim countries of the Middle Eastern had been colonized by European powers, and only in the second half of the 20th century did they begin to regain their independence again.

    The modern political map of the Middle East was not drawn by those countries themselves, but by outside European nations.  The borders of these countries often do not have any real basis in terms of culture or history and served not the interests of local but foreign countries.  The colonial British and French developed nations in the Middle East to satisfy their needs, not the needs of the indigenous population.  The Europeans colonially ruled these countries until only a few decades ago.  Many Muslims feel the lack of development and stability in their societies is a direct result of the legacy of colonialism.

Questions to keep in mind:  How did the Crusades serve to turn the Muslims against the Christian West? What do many Muslims think of Western ways and Western power? How did Napoleon only make worse Muslim feelings of inferiority and exploitation? On what are these feelings of "inferiority" felt by some Muslims in the Middle East based? How do other Muslims feel superior to the West? How have certain Muslims traditionally tried to protect their cultures from outside interference? How did English involvement with the Arab Revolt during WWI? Why did the English do this? What was the outcome for Arabs? What role did Arabs have in drawing the borders of their countries after WWI? Whose interests did these new borders serve? How did they feel about this? How did this serve to underscore historical prejudices felt towards the West? What uncomfortable long-term trends can some Muslims in the Middle East see over the past few centuries? How has Arab nationalism sought to remedy perceived regional weakness? How did Zionism and the creation of the nation of Israel change things? What symbolic role do the Palestinians play for many Muslims? Why does it have such powerful emotional appeal? What gets in the way of Arab unity? How has Islamic fundamentalism proscribed a different cure for the ills of the Middle East? How do these two different Arab movements (Arab nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism) get along? Are they competitors? 


Check out this this link dealing with the historical background between Christians and Muslims.

Check out these good reviews of Egyptian history in the following periods: European conquest (1798-1802), The Dynasty of Mohammed Ali Pasha (1802-1892), British occupation (1882-1952), and Nasserist rule (1956-1970).