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How Egypt became a Secular Nationalist type state sample essay

Egypt and Iran are the two Middle Eastern states with different Ideologies. The two states have a long history in the past. Despite the fact that both are Muslim dominated states, both have a totally different international stature in terms of their ideologies. Egypt has a secular nationalist stature where as Iran has a radical Islamist stature. The major reasons behind this divergent stature are the social setups, various movements, the historical developments and the impact of important national leaders. Egypt

Egypt is located in the northeastern corner of Africa. Egypt used to be the home of one of the principal civilizations of the ancient Middle East and one of the world’s earliest urban and literate societies. Pharaonic Egypt remained under rule of various dynasties for a period of about 3000 years which were interspersed with brief periods of foreign rule. It was conquered by Arab Muslim armies in AD 639–642. Since then, Egypt has been part of Islamic world. Though it was ruled by foreigners but the country’s culture remained Arab in its very nature.

The most notable of Egypt’s rulers under the Muslim caliphate was Saladin (Salah ad-Din, 1138–93), sultan of Egypt and Syria and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. In 1517 the Ottoman Empire defeated the Mamluks and established control over Egypt up to 1798, when Napoleon occupied the country. Due to its strategic location, Egypt always remained a hub for trade routes between Africa, Europe, and Asia, especially due to opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

The concern of the European powers over the canal for strategic and commercial reasons became ruling factor in subsequent history of Egypt. The U. K occupied Egypt in 1882 and continued to exert a strong influence on the country until after World War II (1939–45). One of major elements in political history was ‘Hasan al-Banna’, the founder of (Ikhwan), ‘ The Muslim Brotherhood’ in 1928 which established more than fifty branches in Egypt by 1934. This organization opposed the secular policies and believed that Muslim nations should govern according to the principles of the Quran.

The organization had a major impact on the people of Egypt. At the end of World War Two, the Ikhwan had over 5 Lac active workers and around twice as many supporters. The organization sent thousands of fighters in the war against Israel but it was banned by the government of Noqrashi Pasha. In 1952 a military coup installed a revolutionary regime under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser that promoted a combination of socialism and Pan-Arab nationalism and hence converted the Egypt from Islamic to Secular nationalist state.

His successor as president, Anwar al-Sadat continued Nasser’s policies with some modifications, especially in relation to Israel and was a key player in the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty of 1979. Upon Sadat’s assassination in 1981, Muhammad Hosni Mubarak became president of Egypt who was elected for his fifth term in 2005. Mubarak is following a secular nationalist agenda. Iran The ancient Persian Empire consisted of Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the eastern part of Turkey, Iraq and the parts of Pakistan.

The Muslims invaded Iran in the time of Caliph Umar (637) and conquered it after several great battles. The majority of Iranians gradually converted to Islam. This conversion to Islam was a long process which took almost two centuries. The Muslim population rose from approximately 40% in the mid 9th century to close to 100% by the end of 11th century. Iran was dominated by Sunni Muslims initially however, Ismail I initiated a religious policy to recognize Shia Islam as the official religion of the Safavid Empire, which still is recognized as Shiite state.

During World War II, Iran was an important supplier of oil to the Soviet Union. After World War II, Iran kept following western policies and introduced some economical reforms, which did not greatly improve economic conditions and the liberal pro-Western policies alienated some Islamic religious and political groups. In mid-1960s the political situation became increasingly unstable. The Premier Hassan Ali Mansur was assassinated in 1965 and security service, SAVAK, became more active.

The Islamic clergy, headed by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (who had been exiled in 1964), were becoming increasingly violent. By late 1974 an “alarming” increase in inflation occurred resulted into a big gap between the rich and poor. This situation gave birth to Islamic Revolution which transformed Iran from a monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic in December 1979.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left the country for exile in January 1979 and on 1 February, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran and declared an Islamic republic with a new Constitution reflecting his ideals of Islamic government. Ayatollah Khomeini became supreme spiritual leader of Iran. Same year , Iraq massively invaded Iran, feeling that Iran is too weak to fight back but Iran achieved surprising defensive success resulting a cease fire on 20 August 1988.

Since then Iran in following radical Islamic beliefs and has denied to bow before any international pressure against its ideology. Conclusion Iran and Egypt despite being Muslim dominated countries underwent a different course of events which resulted into different ideologies of the countries. Due to policies of government, different neighborhood, different political interactions and active involvement of key leaders, Egypt became a secular nationalist state whereas Iran became a radical Islamic state.

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