suggests following articles

Several of my articles on Garden City were plagiarized word for word by novelist MEKKAWI SAID (winner of the Egyptian State price for literature!!!!) and re-published under his own name in a three-part series in El-Masry El-Youm daily in September 2015.

Cheers to our "talented" literature prize awardee. Your pain his gain !!!


November 8, 2000

American Headstones Tugging at Egypt's Memory
By SUSAN SACHS  for New York Times page 6

CAIRO, Nov. 7 Behind a high stone wall, in twin graveyards shaded by the heavy branches of gnarled ficus and eucalyptus trees, lie the missionaries and mercenaries who
were the first Americans in Egypt. 

Their epitaphs read like poetry. Their stories, dating back 150 years, hint of romantic folly or grand adventure. Their lonely marble tombs, hidden from the bustle of the living city, draw few visitors besides the songbirds that hide in the green canopy. 

Still, at a time of deep ambivalence here toward the West, the overgrown cemeteries stand as quaint testimonials to a forgotten era a time when an American in Egypt was a welcome curiosity and the United States was seen as a disinterested bit player in the colonial intrigues to dominate the Arab world.

"I like everything that is American," an Egyptian landowner once confided to Frederic Courtland Penfield, the United States diplomatic agent and consul general to Egypt in the 1880's, a compliment that Mr. Penfield duly recorded in his turn-of- the-century memoir. "In that country, all things are magnificent and marvelous."

It would be hard to find an Egyptian these days who holds such unequivocal admiration. The United States is an imperialistic, meddlesome and overbearing force in the region, according to the popular and to a great extent, the official view. The State Department, wary in the face of a surge of anti-American feeling in recent weeks, has warned Americans in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East to exercise caution as they travel or go about their daily lives. 

How unimaginable such worries must have been back in the Victorian Age, when hard-bitten Civil War veterans sailed to Egypt to take up arms in the Khedive Ismail's army and Midwestern evangelists settled along the Nile to convert Egyptian Coptic Christians to Protestantism.

"To us, America was a new country and a new continent, another young nation that was helping us assume our independence from these dying British and French empires," said Samir Raafat, a Cairo historian and preservationist, putting himself in the place of a 19th-century Egyptian seeing Americans for the first time.

"At the time, America was the hope a people that was going to help liberate us from these old empires. Today, of course, we look at America the way we looked at the British Empire back then as an economic and military power that is out to rule the world and subjugate us to its own ways."

Mr. Raafat, an urbane student of those early ambassadors of the New World, paused in front of a marble obelisk during a stroll through the quiet Protestant cemetery the other day. "Erastus Sparrow Purdy Pasha," he read from the inscription on the dusty white column. "Born in the state of New York in 1838. Died in Cairo the 21st of June 1881."

Mr. Purdy was the archetype of the early American expatriates on the Nile, so well-regarded in Egypt that he appears to have been awarded the supreme Ottoman title of "pasha," although it is not clear whether it came during his lifetime or posthumously. 

He was one of 50 veterans of the American Civil War, both Northerners and Southerners, who came to Cairo in the early 1870's at the invitation of Khedive Ismail, then the nation's ruler, to serve in the Egyptian Army. 

It was a time of energetic exploits. Ismail was finishing the construction of the Suez Canal, a project that would drive his nation into such bottomless debt that he would be forced to turn Egypt over to British colonial rule. French construction companies fanned through the country. European explorers ventured into Africa.

Before his extravagance caught up with him, Ismail briefly tried to challenge them through his American employees. Mr. Purdy, not yet a pasha, and other Civil War veterans were dispatched to explore East Africa and to lay claim to parts of it for the khedive. 

But his American soldiers brought Ismail no lasting acquisitions. "It didn't work," Mr. Raafat mused, kicking at the dead leaves that cover all the graves in the cemetery. "The British were not going to allow an upstart like Egypt to control the source of the Nile." 

Around the same time, American Protestant missionaries were settling in the largely Coptic Christian cities of Upper Egypt, following in the footsteps of Catholic and Orthodox missionaries from European churches who had been proselytizing for centuries. 

The graves of missionaries and their families dominate the oldest part of the American cemetery. The inscriptions tell the tales: born in Brooklyn, N.Y., died in Cairo; born in Ohio, died in Cairo; born in Stony Point, N.Y., died in Cairo. 

Finally, at the end of a row of simple headstones just past a towering mango tree, sits a shadowed marble crypt carved in the shape of a scroll. The Rev. Andrew Watson, place of birth in the United States unknown, lies beneath it. Born in 1834. Died in Cairo in 1916. "For 55 years," his tombstone says, "a missionary of the Cross in the Valley of the Nile."

The American missionaries are now remembered, if at all, for the schools they built, which were considered at the time to be beacons of progressive thinking and openness, said Mr. Raafat. Foreigners are no longer permitted to try to convert Egyptians, and these days American aid to Egypt's schools is regularly criticized in the newspapers as improper "American Zionist influence." 

"Back then, though, a lot of people found this American evangelical system as a way out of the dogma of their own churches," said Mr. Raafat. "American education was more liberal. It was co-educational. It was new and modern."

By the end of the century, Egypt and its tourist sites became a favored destination for wealthy Americans. In the decades that followed, transportation improved enough so that American families could bring back the bodies of their dead for burial at home. 

A few contemporary graves dot the cemeteries. A group of Americans, inspired by Mr. Raafat's research, this week rededicated the tomb of Purdy Pasha, but the caretakers of the cemeteries, who are illiterate and cannot read either the English or Arabic inscriptions, know as little about the new arrivals as they do about the old.

"They bury their dead," said Soliman Abdallah Moawad, who tends the plots in the Protestant cemetery, "and never come back." 

Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company

articles posted on were published in the following books by Samir W Raafat: THE EGYPTIAN BOURSE, Zeitouna, Cairo -- CAIRO THE GLORY YEARS, Harpocrates, Alexandria -- HISTORY & SOCIETY IN A CAIRO SUBURB; MAADI 1904-1962, Palm Press, Cairo -- PRIVILEGED FOR THREE CENTURIES, printed digitally and bound by Elias Printing, Egypt

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