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Since its height as one of the world’s great early civilizations, Egypt  had contended with occupation by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and  Ottomans. Napoleon Bonaparte invaded in 1798, but the French were  quickly expelled by the combined armed forces of the British, Mamluk and  Ottoman empires in 1801. Albanian forces, nominally loyal to the  Ottomans initially, emerged in the four years of chaos that followed the  French retreat. An Albanian commander, Muhammad Ali, quickly  distinguished himself as a popular leader and became the Ottoman Viceroy  in Egypt in 1805. Ali’s son and grandsons succeeded him, and often  continued his legacy of development and modernization of the Egyptian  state, infrastructure and economy. Completed in 1869, the Suez Canal was  one of several expensive development projects that put Egypt heavily  into debt with usurious European bankers. The debt reached crisis levels  by 1875, forcing Ali’s grandson and successor Ismail to sell his  interest in the canal to Britain. Taxes were also raised to pay foreign  debt, which was widely unpopular.

Nationalism emerged in the late 19th century in response to concessions  to British and French interests and increased further with the informal  establishment of a British protectorate in 1882. Protests against  Egyptian Viceroy Khedive Tawfiq were suppressed. After Tawfiq’s son  Abbas Hilmi II ascended to become Egyptian Viceroy, the move toward  independence picked up among Egyptians. Two political parties emerged by  1907 that increasingly became vehicles for Egyptian nationalism: the  People’s Party (Al Hizb al Umma) and the National Party (Wantani Party),  founded by the wealthy journalist and prominent lawyer Mustafa Kamil.  The religiously conservative National Party appealed to young  professionals, such as students and people seeking government positions.  The party called for the evacuation of the British from Egypt in 1907  and controlled a major newspaper, The Banner (Al Liwa). The People’s  Party and their outlet, simply known as The Newspaper (Al Jaridah), took  a more moderate position, appealing to intellectuals and landowners who  advocated gradual reform through education and selective cooperation  with the British.

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