chapter  10
16 Pages

Westernizing Reform in the Nineteenth Century

WithArthur Goldschmidt, Aomar Boum

In a Western country, reformers often come from outside the power elite, challenge the system, and, if successful, change it. This chapter focuses on reform in Egypt, the rest of the Ottoman Empire, and Persia. By the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was obviously declining relative to an increasingly modern and powerful West. Selim III planned a full-scale housecleaning, a nizam-i-jedid that would reform the whole Ottoman government. Like many of the Ottoman reformers, Mehmet 'Ali realized that losses on the battlefield showed the glaring weakness of the existing army and the government behind it. Napoleon and his men were not Muslims, nor did they restore Ottoman sovereignty. Popular histories stress the French occupation because Napoleon was so colorful and because France would later form strong cultural ties with Egypt. Hundreds of Turkish- and Arabic-speaking Egyptians were sent to Europe for technical and military training.