The French in Egypt in 1798—1801: Failed Dialogue of Civilizations
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The French in Egypt in 1798—1801: Failed Dialogue of Civilizations
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Alexandre Tchoudinov 
Affiliation: Institute of World History RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

The article is devoted to the problem of cross-cultural interaction between the French and the Arabs during the Egyptian expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte 1798—1801. Using a comparative analysis of a wide range of French sources and Arab chronicles, the author comes to the conclusion that Bonaparte's attempt at an inter-civilizational dialogue with the Muslim population of Egypt ended in complete failure. Based on the stereotypical ideas about the Orient, common in the French literature of the Enlightenment, Napoleon tried to play in Egypt the same role that, according to the French philosophers, the Prophet Muhammad allegedly played in his time, namely, to take advantage of the “credulity” and “superstition” of the local population to subordinate it to his power. However, the Egyptians were very skeptical concerning Bonaparte's claims about the French army's commitment to Islam and his attempts to present himself as the Mahdi, the prophet of the last times. The daily practices of the occupiers, which openly contradicted the culture of Islam, completely alienated the Muslims from the French, which resulted not only in their mutual misunderstanding, but also in real hatred for each other.

Modern history, France, Egypt, the French Revolution of the XVIII century, Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign, inter-civilizational dialogue
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