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Egypt books refer to Ottoman rule as “invasion”

Change to counter Turkish influence: observers

As part of an initiative to change school curricula and revolutionize textbooks, Egypt’s Ministry of Education crossed out the word “conquest” in reference to the Ottoman presence in Egypt and replaced it with the term “invasion.”

With the start of the new academic year, the Ministry of Education announced the implementation of radical changes to school textbooks in elementary and junior school stages.

"Ghazw" vs. "Fateh"

“We changed much of the curricula and replaced old textbooks with new ones in order to cater to the mentality of modern students in the 21st century,” a ministry official told Al Arabiya.

According to press reports, the ministry sent confidential reports to education departments all over Egypt that contained the changes. The daily independent al-Dostour obtained a copy of these reports.

One of the most striking and controversial changes, the newspaper reported, was calling the Ottoman advancement into Egypt “ghazw,” meaning invasion, instead of “fateh,” meaning conquest, which was used for decades in all school textbooks in reference to Ottoman and Islamic presence in the country and the rest of the region.

Fateh, which literally means “opening” in Arabic, means annexing a territory to the nation that seized it. It is commonly used to denote a benevolent intention to spread justice in this territory and/or save it from an oppressive occupier.

This term has been used in reference to the Islamic presence outside the Arabian Peninsula. It was usually considered to have taken place in order to spread the then new religion (Islam) and gather people under the banner of Ummah (nation).

In contrast, the word “ghazw” in Arabic denotes a military incursion that primarily aims at occupying a country for plundering its wealth and exploiting its people and usually involves violence and extensive military action.

We changed much of the curricula and replaced old textbooks with new ones in order to cater to the mentality of modern students in the 21st century

Education Ministry official

Turkish influence

This change in particular is seen against the backdrop of the growing Turkish influence in the Middle East, said educational expert Gamal Abdul Hadi.

“Egypt is trying to counter Turkey’s expanding role in the region especially that many observers are linking this current role to the Ottoman Empire, considered by historians the last Islamic caliphate,” he told Al Arabiya.

The new textbook, part of the history course, states that Ottomans invaded Egypt because they wanted to expand their influence to the East and Egypt, as the heart of the Muslim world, was their way to do so.

According to the book, Ottomans used religion only as a means of tightening their grip on the Arab world.

“They took advantage of the fact that the medieval mentality was prevalent in the Arab world,” says the textbook. “It is a mentality that basically depended on taking things at face value and on theoretical rather than practical sciences.”


(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).

Egypt is trying to counter Turkey’s expanding role in the region especially that many observers are linking this current role to the Ottoman Empire, considered by historians the last Islamic caliphate

Education expert Gamal Abdul Hadi