This article was initially distributed here on Salon.com on Sunday, August 27, 2017.
Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, was at one time a cosmopolitan place. Settled in the eastern Mediterranean at the side of Africa and the Levant, it pulled in substantial quantities of Greeks, Italians, European Jews, Lebanese and others. It was a center point of numerous dialects and societies in the bilingual society that was Egypt in the late nineteenth century and the principal half of the twentieth. Squint sufficiently hard and the leftovers of that time comes into see, yet they remain an obscure. Alexandria is a feeble sprawl now, the terrible aftereffect of poor or nonexistent urban arranging, Egypt’s populace development and huge defilement. In an unexpected turn, the city has likewise turned into an Islamist fortification in the course of the most recent four decades.
There is, obviously, a considerable measure of hagiography about Egypt amid its supposed liberal period — generally the years finishing World War I the 1940s. Egypt was never as dynamic as it is now and then depicted. Indeed, even the insightful journals about existence in Alexandria and Cairo in the mid-twentieth century depict a somewhat more confused reality of outside occupation, a primitive like monetary framework, segregation and religious devotion. One party rule, or the strategies of fascists, likewise spoke to a few. In any case, from multiple points of view Egypt amid those years was a more tolerant, open and dynamic culture. At the tip top level, in any event, individuals from varying backgrounds, foundations and experience were a piece of the social, political, scholarly, social and financial structure holding the system together.
It has been difficult to put forth that defense for the majority of the most recent 60 years, be that as it may. What happened to Egypt was the improvement of an effective arrangement of thoughts identified with populism, patriotism and religious fundamentalism that corrupt pioneers and political business people fed for their own parochial advantages. It is a story that remaining parts to a great extent obscure outside the generally little universe of experts on Egyptian legislative issues and history, however it is out of the blue pertinent to the political predicaments and clashes presently irritating the United States. Notwithstanding representing the huge contrasts ever, culture, political frameworks and monetary advancement between the two nations, Egypt’s story is a preventative one for the United States today. At a level of deliberation, that dangerous blend of populist, patriot, religious governmental issues that joined with skepticism to cause Egypt’s relapse is available in American culture as well.
At the point when the Free Officers seized control of Egypt in an overthrow in the early morning of July 23, 1952, they had little thought regarding how to administer and what precisely they remained for. At that point Lieutenant Colonel Anwar al-Sadat, who declared the takeover on Egyptian radio, accentuated the debasement and the vindictive impacts of the proceeding with British control of the nation. These moderately junior authorities, among whom Gamal Abdel Nasser was first among rises to, at first expressed that they just looked for “change” however in time pronounced that they would tear down the political framework and fabricate another administration in which the officers would apparently use control. This task, especially the part that gave the military the overwhelming put in the new political request, delivered an assortment of rivals extending from liberals and communists to Muslim Brothers and understudies of every political shade and stripes.