Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Cairo: the city vanquished? The Muslim Brotherhood and the ruralisation of Egypt
Cairo, Al-Qahira, is literally The Vanquisher, or the vanquishing city. Max Rodenbook, in the title of his delightful history of the Egyptian capital, rendered it, “Cairo: City Victorious”. And for a great part of its millennium-long history, Egyptians have equated Cairo with the Arabic name of the whole country.
Cairo was Misr, and was umm el-donia, or the Mother of the World, which provided the title of yet another marvelous history of the city, the late Desmond Stewart’s “Great Cairo: Mother of the World”. For his part, Andre Raymond titled his outstanding scholarly history of the Egyptian capital: “Cairo: City of History”.
And while Cairo got its current name in 969, under the Fatimids, who also founded Al-Azhar (972), it has been the constant administrative centre of the country, and its commercial and intellectual heart, since the Muslim conquest of Egypt under the command of Amr Ibn al-‘As in 640, and his founding of al-Fustat two years later.