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Debates on Citizenship and Secularism in Semi-Colonial Egypt

Egypt became the main center of Arabic literary production and Islamic reform at the end of the nineteenth century. Various actors freely discussed the meanings of democracy, secularism, and independence as well as the significance of diverse cultural and religious identities. In the national independence movement and the political system, a secular consensus prevailed in the first half of the twentieth century. However, the 1929 Egyptian Nationality Law stipulated that only a person whose family had lived in Egypt since 1848 without interruption was an Egyptian. Thus, it discriminated against mobile Jewish, Greek, Italian, Armenian, and Syrian minorities, residing in Egypt since Ottoman times. By discussing the scope and limits of such concepts as democracy, secularism and citizenship in public debates, the research project aims to take a fresh look at the emergence of modern Egypt.

The project belongs to the sub-project "Self-Determination under Occupation. The Formation of Modern Egypt, 1879–1956" at the IEG and the collaborative project "The Historicity of Democracy in the Arab and Muslim World" (HISDEMAB), funded by the Leibniz Association.