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Egyptian people
مَصريين
Egyptian people
Total population
appox. 91,000,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Egypt Egypt 82.5 million (2012) [2]
Libya Libya 1,000,000 [3]
Sudan Sudan 800,000 [4]
United States United States 450,000 [5]
Jordan Jordan 227,000 [6]
Kuwait Kuwait 191,000 [7]
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 140,000 [8]
Canada Canada 110,000 [9]
Languages

Egyptian Arabic

Religion

Mostly Islam (Sunni with Sufi followers)
Coptic Christianity
others

The Egyptian people (Arabic: مِصريّون‎ miṣriyyūn) are the inhabitants and ctiizens of Egypt sharing a common culture and a dialect of Arabic.

The Egyptian people are one of the many nationalities that contain components of an ethnic group, and are many times regarded as an ethnic group by its people. If regarded as a single ethnic group, the Egyptian people constitute one of the world's largest.

Etymology

  • Egyptians, from Greek Αἰγύπτιοι, Aiguptioi, from Αἴγυπτος, Aiguptos "Egypt". The Greek name is derived from Latin Egyptian Hikuptah "Memphis", a corruption of the earlier Egyptian name Hat-ka-Ptah, meaning "home of the ka (soul) of Ptah", the name of a temple to the god Ptah at Memphis.
  • Copts (Arabic: قبط) – Under Muslim rule, the Egyptians came to be known as Copts, also a derivative of the Greek word Αἰγύπτιος, Aiguptios (Egyptian). After the majority of Egyptians converted from Christianity to Islam, the term became exclusively associated with Egyptian Christianity and Egyptians who remained Christian, though references to native Muslims as Copts are attested until the Mamluk period.[14]
  • Maṣreyyīn – The modern Egyptian name comes from the ancient Semitic name for Egypt and originally connoted "civilization" or "metropolis". Classical Arabic Miṣr (Egyptian Arabic Maṣr) is directly cognate with the Biblical Hebrew Mitzráyīm, meaning "the two straits", a reference to the predynastic separation of Upper and Lower Egypt. Edward William Lane writing in the 1820s, said that Egyptians commonly called themselves El-Maṣreyyīn 'the Egyptians', Ewlad Maṣr 'the Children of Egypt' and Ahl Maṣr 'the People of Egypt'. He added that the Turks "stigmatized" the Egyptians with the name Ahl-Far'ūn or the 'People of the Pharaoh'.[15

History

Main article: Population history of Egypt 
Main article: History of Egypt

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt sees a succession of thirty dynasties spanning three millennia, during which Egyptian culture underwent significant development in terms of religion, arts, language and customs. Egypt fell under "foreign rulers", the Hyksos, in the Middle Bronze Age, which the native nobility managed to expel by the Late Bronze Age, initiating the New Kingdom of Egypt which rose to the status of an "Empire" under Thutmose III. The 25th dynasty of Nubian rulers was again briefly replaced by native nobility in the 7th century BC, but in 525 BC, Egypt fell under Persian rule. Alexander the Great was greeted as a liberator when he conquered Egypt in 332 BC. The Late Period of ancient Egypt is taken to end with his death in 323 BC. The Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt from 305 BC to 30 BC and introduced Hellenic culture to Egyptians.

Societies of the Ancient Egyptians

From 2920 BC to 525 BC in conventional Egyptian chronology, divine kingship was the glue which held Egyptian
Maler der Grabkammer der Bildhauer Nebamun und Ipuki 005

Boat scene, tomb of Nebamun, 18th dynasty, Thebes.

society together. It was especially pronounced in the Old and Middle Kingdoms and continued until the Roman conquest. The societal structure created by this system of government remained virtually unchanged up to modern times.[10] The king of Egypt, as a living personification of Horus, could claim the throne after burying his predecessor, who was typically his father. When the role of the king waned, the country became more susceptible to foreign influence and invasion. The attention paid to the dead, and the veneration with which they were held, were one of the hallmarks of ancient Egyptian society. Egyptians built tombs for their dead that were meant to last for eternity. This was most prominently expressed by the Great Pyramids. The ancient Egyptian word for tomb pr nḥḥ means 'House of Eternity.' The Egyptians also celebrated life, as is shown by tomb reliefs and inscriptions, papyri and other sources depicting Egyptians farming, conducting trade expeditions, hunting, holding festivals, attending parties and receptions with their pet dogs, cats and monkeys, dancing and singing, enjoying food and drink, and playing games. The ancient Egyptians were also known for their engaging sense of humor, much like their modern descendants.[11]

Greco-Roman Period

When Alexander died, a story began to circulate that Nectanebo II was Alexander's father. This made Alexander in the eyes of the Egyptians a legitimate heir to the native pharaohs.[12] The new Ptolemaic rulers, however,
Egyptian mummy

Roman-era portrait of an Egyptian mummy from the Fayum collection, c. AD 125 − AD 150

exploited Egypt for their own benefit and a great social divide was created between Egyptians and Greeks.[13] The local priesthood, however, continued to wield power as they had during the Dynastic age. Egyptians continued to practice their religion undisturbed and largely maintained their own separate communities from their foreign conquerors.[14] The language of administration became Greek, but the mass of the Egyptian population was Egyptian-speaking and concentrated in the countryside, while most Greeks lived in Alexandria and only few had any knowledge of Egyptian.[15] The Ptolemaic rulers all retained their Greek names and titles, but projected a public image of being Egyptian pharaohs. Much of this period's vernacular literature was composed in the demotic phase and script of the Egyptian language. When the Romans annexed Egypt in 30 BC, the social structure created by the Greeks was largely retained, though the power of the Egyptian priesthood diminished.

Introduction of Christianity

The cult of Isis, like those of Osiris and Serapis, had been popular in Egypt and throughout the Roman Empire at the coming of Christianity, and continued to be the main competitor with Christianity in its early years. The main temple of Isis remained a major center of worship in Egypt until the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in
Coptic-Arabic Manuscript

Coptic-Arabic manuscript, Ayyubid period, AD 1249-50. Images depict Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the kiss of Judas, the arrest of Christ, his appearance before Caiaphas, Peter's denial at cockcrow, Christ before Pilate, and the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.

the 6th century, when it was finally closed down. Egyptians, disaffected and weary after a series of foreign occupations, identified the story of the mother-goddess Isis protecting her child Horus with that of the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus escaping the emperor Herod.[16] Consequently, many sites believed to have been the resting places of the holy family during their sojourn in Egypt became sacred to the Egyptians. The visit of the holy family later circulated among Egyptian Christians as fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt" (Hosea 11:1). The feast of the coming of the Lord of Egypt on June 1 became an important part of Christian Egyptian tradition. According to tradition, Christianity was brought to Egypt by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the early 40s of the 1st century, under the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. The earliest converts were Jews residing in Alexandria, a city which had by then become a center of culture and learning in the entire Mediterranean oikoumene. St. Mark is said to have founded the Holy Apostolic See of Alexandria and to have become its first Patriarch. Within 50 years of St. Mark's arrival in Alexandria, a fragment of New Testament writings appeared in Oxyrhynchus (Bahnasa), which suggests that Christianity already began to spread south of Alexandria at an early date. One of the defining moments in the history of the Church in Egypt is a controversy that ensued over the nature of Jesus Christ which culminated in the final split of the Coptic Church from both the Byzantine and Roman Catholic Churches. The Council of Chalcedon convened in AD 451, signaling the Byzantine Empire's determination to assert its hegemony over Egypt. When it declared that Jesus Christ was of two natures embodied in Christ's person, the Egyptian reaction was swift, rejecting the decrees of the Council as incompatible with the Miaphysite doctrine of Coptic Orthodoxy. The Copts' upholding of the Miaphysite doctrine against the pro-Chalcedonian Greek Melkites had both theological and national implications. As Coptologist Jill Kamil notes, the position taken by the Egyptians "paved [the way] for the Coptic church to establish itself as a separate entity...No longer even spiritually linked with Constantinople, theologians began to write more in Coptic and less in Greek. Coptic art developed its own national character, and the Copts stood united against the imperial power."[17]

Islamic Period

The new religion of Islam was making headway in Arabia, culminating in the Muslim conquests that took place
Tomb of Egyptian saint

Tomb of Egyptian saint Dhul-Nun al-Misri (AD 796-859) in Cairo's City of the Dead.

following Muhammad's Passing on. In AD 639, the Arab general 'Amr ibn al-'As marched into Egypt, facing off with the Byzantines in the Battle of Heliopolis that ended with the Byzantines' defeat. The relationship between the Greek Melkites and the Egyptian Copts had grown so bitter that most Egyptians did not put up heavy resistance against the Arabs.[18] The new Muslim rulers moved the capital to Fustat and, through the 7th century, retained the existing Byzantine administrative structure with Greek as its language. Native Egyptians filled administrative ranks and continued to worship freely so long as they paid the jizya poll tax, in addition to a land tax that all Egyptians irrespective of religion also had to pay. The authority of the Miaphysite doctrine of the Coptic Church was for the first time nationally recognized. Soon increased taxation by the Muslim rulers became heavier, leading many Christians to adopt Islam in order to escape the jizya.[19] The form of Islam that eventually took hold in Egypt was Sunni, though very early in this period Egyptians began to
Al-Azhar mosque

Al-Azhar Mosque founded in AD 970 by the Fatimids

blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices that had survived through Coptic Christianity. Just as Egyptians had been pioneers in early monasticism so they were in the development of the mystical form of Islam, Sufism.[20] The Fatimids with some exceptions were known for their religious tolerance and their observance of local Muslim, Coptic and indigenous Egyptian festivals and customs. Under the Ayyubids, the country for the most part continued to prosper until it fell to the Mamluks. The Mamluk period (AD 1258-1517) is generally regarded as one under which Egyptians, Muslims and Copts, greatly suffered. Copts were forcibly converted to Islam in greater numbers following the Crusader assaults on Egypt. By the 15th century most Egyptians had already been converted to Islam, while Coptic Christians were reduced to a minority.[21] The Mamluks were mainly ethnic Circassians and Turks who had been captured as slaves then recruited into the army fighting on behalf of the Islamic empire.

Ottoman Rule

Egyptians under the Ottoman Turks from the 16th to the 18th centuries lived within a social hierarchy similar to that of the Mamluks, Arabs, Romans, Greeks and Persians before them. Native Egyptians applied the term atrak (Turks) indiscriminately to the Ottomans and Mamluks, who were at the top of the social pyramid, while Egyptians, most of whom were farmers, were at the bottom. Frequent revolts by the Egyptian peasantry against the Ottoman-Mamluk Beys took place throughout the 18th century, particularly in Upper Egypt where the peasants at one point wrested control of the region and declared a separatist government.[22] The only segment of Egyptian society which appears to have retained a degree of power during this period were the Muslim 'ulama or religious scholars, who directed the religious and social affairs of the native Egyptian population and interceded on their behalf when dealing with the Turko-Circassian elite.

Egyptians During the Second World War

When European countries developed into war machines in the 1930s (specially Germany and Italy), the thirst for territory turned to North Africa which was home to a big Arab and Berber population. Without help or consent from any
British Soldiers

British soldiers during the Battle of El Alamein

Arabs or African natives, the European powers annexed and decided borders upon themselves. France and Britain, two of Germany's worse enemies all owned territories in North Africa. Under Adolf Hitler, an Austrian revolutionary, German enmity against France and Britain was growing until it led the Germans and Italians to ally themselves for an invasion of North Africa. The Arabs were part of the Middle Eastern theater of World War II. In 1935, Italian forces entered Ethiopia. Most of the battles took place in Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia. British forces in Egypt could not stand the Axis (Germany and its allies) invasion. Adolf Hitler sent his best and most talented general, Erwin Rommel to handle the British and French allies in North Africa which proved to be a success. The invasion of North Africa also fueled American intervention, even that did not help. It isn't until Britain sent Sir Bernard Montgomery and the United States sent George Paton, two generals who were considered national bests, to North Africa. Erwin Rommel was finally defeated at the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in 1943. The Axis forces finally retreated to Italy. After the victory, the territory of Palestine and what is now the State of Israel became British territory which was known as Mandatory Palestine (Arabic: فلسطين).

Cold War

The Arab-Israeli Military Conflict

In 1948, Britain's hold of Mandatory Palestine expired and was replaced with a Zionist (Jewish nationalist) state, which brought anger and upset amongst the Arab World that culminated into the Arab-Israeli Conflict, most of the wars were fought between Egypt and Israel as well other prominent Arab states such as Syria. Egypt's second president, Gamal Abdel-Nasser (Arabic: جمال عبد الناصر حسين‎) became a symbol and leader of Arab politics. It is Abdel-Nasser who eliminated imperialism in Egypt and Sudan, bringing modernization to the Egyptians and tried to stabalize conditions in the Arab World and also vowed to fight the Israeli armies during Egypt's wars with Israel. In
Egyptian forces crossing Suez

Egyptian forces crossing the Suez Canal on 1973)

1967, the Egyptian army, led by Abdel-Nasser lost a brutal fight against the Israeli army for control of the Sinai Peninsula, losing the territory. During that 1967 war, Egypt also had an alliance with Syria and Jordan which further heightened the humiliation of the loss. Afterwards, Abdel-Nasser initiated the War of Attrition, the name speaks it all; an "attrition war" is fought using a strategy of prolonged fighting to deplete the opponent of its military resources. The war included battles on all land, air and sea and served as a testing ground between the Soviet Union and the United States, the Soviets supported the Arab states while the United States and the western powers supported Israel. The Egyptians suffered operational losses against the Israelis since they prepared for larger-scale battles on the battlefields. Egypt's air force also lost dogfights against the Israeli air forces lost valuable Soviet equipment to Israeli forces coming to capture them. The War of Attrition would end with Abdel-Nasser's death and while both sides claimed victory, the war turned in Israel's favor but was considered a draw since no border changes were made. In 1973, Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat initiated the Yom Kippur War, which fell on the Islamic month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Under Sadat's leadership, the joint-Egyptian and Syrian forces would defeat the Israelis on the early stages of the war which ended Israel's feeling of invinsibility which were mostly surprise attacks on the night of Yom Kippur. The Israelis had underestimated the Arab states. Although Israel would later repulse the invasion and win the war, due to dubious decisions made by the Arab leaders. The early victories gave the Arab World a propaganda victory. In 1978, Anwar el-Sadat signed the Camp David Accords with Israeli prime minister Menachim Begin; Egypt would become the first Arab state to recognized Israel. Thanks to Sadat, Mount Sinai was returned to Egypt. During the Cold War, the Mujahideen (Arabic: مجاهد‎) was formed. Through the Mujahideen, the Arabs helped Afghanistan defeat the Soviet armies.

Language

The official language of Egypt today is Arabic. The spoken vernacular is known as Egyptian Arabic, while Modern Standard Arabic is reserved for more formal contexts.

The recorded history of Egyptian Arabic as a separate dialect begins in Ottoman Egypt with a document by a 17th-century author writing about the peculiarities of the speech of the Egyptian people.[23]

This suggests that the language by then was spoken by the majority of Egyptians. It is represented in a body of vernacular literature comprising novels, plays and poetry published over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Classical Arabic is also a significant cultural element in Egyptian culture, as Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated.

The Coptic language, the liturgical language of the Coptic Church of Alexandria is the last surviving forms of an ancient Egyptian language, although it contains no native or fluent speakers.

Religion

El Mursi Mosque

El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque in Alexandria

The Egyptian people are predominantly Muslim, with Muslims accounting for between 80% and 90% of a population of around 80 million Egyptians. The vast majority of Muslims in Egypt are part of the Sunni Islam. A significant number of Muslim Egyptians also follow native Sufi orders,[24] and there is a minority of Mu'tazila & Shia Twelvers & Ismailism numbering a few thousands

According to the Constitution of Egypt, any new legislation must at least implicitly agree with Islamic law.[25] Article 45 of the Constitution extends freedom of religion to the three Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism), but only those three.

The remainder of Christians, numbering between 10% and 20% of the population,[26] mostly belong to the native
Hanging Church

The Hanging Church is Cairo's most famous Coptic church, first built in the 3rd or 4th century AD.

Coptic Church of Alexandria, an Oriental Orthodox Church.[27][28][29][30][31]  The most recent declarations, made by Pope Shenouda III and bishop Morkos of Shubra in 2008, put forward the number of Orthodox Copts in Egypt as being over 12 million. Other estimates made by church officials estimate this number to be 16 million. Protestant churches claim a membership of about 300,000 Egyptians, [32] and the Coptic Catholic Church is estimated to have a similar membership among Egyptians.[33][34] Based on these estimates, the total number of Christians in Egypt is between 15% and 20% of a total population of 80 million Egyptians.

Judaism had been one of the predominant religions in Egypt, and a number of famous and prominent Jewish philosaphers came from Egypt, such as Saadia Gaon. During the Arab-Israeli Conflict, most of these Jews emigrated to Israel.

A large number of Egyptians are also non-religious and atheists.

Cuisine

Egyptian cuisine is part of the cuisine of the Arab World. Egyptian cuisine makes heavy use of legumes and
Madame

Ful Madame

vegetables, as Egypt's rich Nile Valley and Delta produce large quantities of high-quality crops. Egyptian cuisine's history goes back to Ancient Egypt. Archaeological excavations have found that workers on the Great Pyramids of Giza were paid in bread, beer, and onions, apparently their customary diet as peasants in the Egyptian countryside. Dental analysis of occasional desiccated loaves found in tombs confirm this, in addition to indicating that ancient Egyptian bread was made with flour from emmer wheat. Though beer disappeared as a mainstay of Egyptian life following the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the year 641 A.D., onions remain the primary vegetable for flavoring and nutrition in Egyptian food. Beans were also a primary source of protein for the mass of the Egyptian populace, as they remain today. Egyptian cuisine is notably conducive to vegetarian diets, as it relies heavily on vegetable dishes. Though food in Alexandria and the coast of Egypt tends to use a great deal of fish and other seafood, for the most part Egyptian cuisine is based on foods that grow out of the ground. Meat has been very expensive for most Egyptians throughout history, and a great deal of vegetarian dishes have developed to work around this economic reality. Bread forms the backbone of Egyptian cuisine. The local bread is a form of hearty,
Falafel2

Falafel

thick, glutenous pita bread called Eish Masri or Relish Salad (Egyptian Arabic: عيش) (Modern Standard Arabic: ʿayš) rather than the Arabic خبز ḫubz. Egyptians use bread to scoop up food, sauces, and dips and to wrap kebabs, falafel, and the like in the manner of sandwiches.

Falafel (Arabic: فلافل) is a deep-fried vegetable dish and is an extremely popular food of the Arab World. Chickpeas and fava beans are mashed into balls and deep-fried, making the food appear to be meatballs - although it is an entirely vegetable dish. The shwarmah sandwhich is a falafel-sandwhich, falafel along with other toppings is wrapped in pita bread.

Kushari (Arabic: كشرى) is an Egyptian entrée dish that is made of rice, lentils, chickpeas and macaroni with tomato sauce. Ful madame (فول مدمّس) is a fava bean dish. It is also popular in the Levantine countries, and considered one of Egypt's national dishes.

Notable Egyptians Or People of Egyptian Origin

Amenhotep III

Amenhotep III

Akhenaten

Akhenaten

Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut

Tutankhamun

King Tut
Ramesses II
Ramses

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Gamal Abdel-Nasser

Gamal Abdel-Nasser

Muhammad Abduh

Muhammad Abdu

Sayed Darwish

Seyed Darwish

Umm Kulthum

Umm Kulthum2

Hassan al-Banna

Hassan al-Banna

Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz

Anwar Sadat

Anwar Sadat

Abdul-Basit

Abdul-Basit

Abu El-Ibiary

Abo El Seoud

Abdel-Hafez

Abdel-Hafez

Dawood Hosni

Dawood Hosni

Saadia Gaon

Saadia Gaon

Shenouda III

Shenouda III

Farouk El-Baz

Farouk el-Baz

Hagar

Hagar

Boutros Ghali

Ghali

Dina Powell

Dina Powell

Ahmed Zewail

Ahmed Zewail

Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak

Sources

  1. http://www.aleqt.com/2012/08/30/article_687941.html
  2. http://www.msrintranet.capmas.gov.eg/pls/fdl/tst12e?action=1&lname=%201
  3. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011221222342232993.html
  4. http://www.emigration.gov.eg/allnews/DisplayNews.aspx?CatId=16&NewsId=88758
  5. http://www.npr.org/2013/01/04/168609672/amid-instability-in-egypt-coptic-christians-flee-to-u-s
  6. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011221222342232993.html
  7. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011221222342232993.html
  8. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/EGM_Ittmig_Arab/P02_Kapiszewski.pdf
  9. http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/758/feature.htm
  10. Grimal, p. 93
  11. Watterson, p. 15
  12. Watterson, p. 192
  13. Kamil, Jill. Coptic Egypt: History and Guide. Cairo: American University in Cairo, 1997. p. 11
  14. Watterson, p. 215
  15. Jankowski, p. 28
  16. Kamil, p. 21
  17. Kamil, p. 39
  18. Kamil, p. 40
  19. Watterson, p. 268
  20. El-Daly, p. 140
  21. Jankowski, p. 35
  22. Vatikiotis, p. 31
  23. Dafʻ al-ʼiṣr ʻan kalām ʼahl Miṣr ('The Removal of the Burden from the Language of the People of Egypt') by Yūsuf al-Maġribi </li>
  24. Hoffman, Valerie J. Sufism, Mystics, and Saints in Modern Egypt. University of South Carolina Press, 1995. </li>
  25. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkley_Center_for_Religion,_Peace,_and_World_Affairs </li>
  26. http://www.pewforum.org/newassets/images/reports/Muslimpopulation/Muslimpopulation.pdf </li>
  27. "Egypt from "The World Factbook"". American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). September 4, 2008 </li>
  28. Egypt from "U.S. Department of State/Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs"". United States Department of State. September 30, 2008. </li>
  29. "Egypt from "Foreign and Commonwealth Office"". Foreign and Commonwealth Office -UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs. August 15, 2008 </li>
  30. "Egypt Religions & Peoples from "LOOKLEX Encyclopedia"". LookLex Ltd. September 30, 2008. </li>
  31. "Egypt from "msn encarta"". Encarta. September 30, 2008. </li>
  32. Who are the Christians in the Middle East?. Betty Jane Bailey. Accessed June 19, 2009. </li>
  33. Controversy in Egypt after a prominent church figure declared the number of Copts in Egypt exceeds 12 million". November 2, 2008. </li>
  34. Pope Shenouda III declares to a TV station that the number of Copts in Egypt exceeds 12 million". October 29, 2008. </li></ol>

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