SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Carter, Barbara Lynn (1982) Communalism in Egyptian politics: The experience of the Copts, 1918-1952. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (16MB) | Preview


This thesis explores a particular experiment in political accommodation between the Muslim majority and Coptic minority in Egypt between 1918 and 1952. The Egyptians then seized the opportunity presented by a changing political system to restructure the governing arrangements between Muslims and Copts and involve the latter more fully in the political process. Many hoped to see the collaboration of the 1919 revolution spur the creation of both a new collective Egyptian identity and a state without religious bias. Traditional ways of governing, however, were not so easily cast aside, and Islam continued to have a political role. Some Egyptians held tenaciously to the traditional arrangements which had both guaranteed Muslim primacy and served relatively well to protect the Copts and afford them some autonomy. Differences within the Coptic community over the wisdom of trusting the genuineness and durability of Muslim support for equality were accented by a protracted struggle between reforming laymen and conservative clergy for control of the community. The unwillingness of all parties to compromise hampered the ability of the community both to determine and defend its interests. The Copts met with modest success in their attempt to become full Egyptian citizens. As one example, their influence in the Wafd, the preeminent political party, was very strong prior to and in the early years of the Constitutional Monarchy. As a second, their formal representation was generally adequate and, in some Parliaments, better than adequate. However, this very success produced a backlash which caused many Copts to believe, by the 1940s, that the experiment had failed: political activity had become fraught with risk for them. Coptic complaints about Muslim intolerance abounded and reflected the broad criticisms levelled at minority behaviour by Muslims. At the close of the monarchy, equality and shared power seemed notions as distant as in the disheartening years before the revolution.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:59

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item