The Orphan Scandal: Christian Missionaries and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood
On a sweltering June morning in 1933 a fifteen-year-old Muslim orphan girl refused to rise in a show of respect for her elders at her Christian missionary school in Port Said. Her intransigence led to a beating—and to the end of most foreign missions in Egypt—and contributed to the rise of Islamist organizations. Turkiyya Hasan left the Swedish Salaam Mission with scratches on her legs and a suitcase of evidence of missionary misdeeds. Her story hit a nerve among Egyptians, and news of the beating quickly spread through the country. Suspicion of missionary schools, hospitals, and homes increased, and a vehement anti-missionary movement swept the country. That missionaries had won few converts was immaterial to Egyptian observers: stories such as Turkiyya's showed that the threat to Muslims and Islam was real. This is a great story of unintended consequences: Christian missionaries came to Egypt to convert and provide social services for children. Their actions ultimately inspired the development of the Muslim Brotherhood and similar Islamist groups. In The Orphan Scandal, Beth Baron provides a new lens through which to view the rise of Islamic groups in Egypt. This fresh perspective offers a starting point to uncover hidden links between Islamic activists and a broad cadre of Protestant evangelicals. Exploring the historical aims of the Christian missions and the early efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood, Baron shows how the Muslim Brotherhood and like-minded Islamist associations developed alongside and in reaction to the influx of missionaries. Patterning their organization and social welfare projects on the early success of the Christian missions, the Brotherhood launched their own efforts to "save" children and provide for the orphaned, abandoned, and poor. In battling for Egypt's children, Islamic activists created a network of social welfare institutions and a template for social action across the country—the effects of which, we now know, would only gain power and influence across the country in the decades to come.
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13 June 24 June 26 June abandoned children Ablitt al-Azhar al-Balagh al-Fath al-Jihad al-Mahmudiyya al-Manzala al-Maraghi al-Siyasa American Evangelicals American Mission Anti-Missionary Campaign anti-missionary movement Assiout Asyut Orphanage Bible women boys British Cairo Christian Church converts Copts Damanhur Defense of Islam Egypt General Mission Egyptian Gazette evangelicals Fowler Orphanage funds Hasan al-Banna hospitals Ibid Islamists Isma‘iliyya Jaridat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin July Kawkab al-Sharq Keown-Boyd Labiba Ahmad launched League Lillian Trasher Maria Ericsson minister Ministry Mission in Egypt Missionary Incident Moslem mother Muhammad Muslim Brotherhood Muslim Brothers Muslim children Muslim girls NARA Nile officials orphan scandal orphaned and abandoned Parquet Pekkola Pentecostal Port Presbyterian Press proselytizing Protestant Rabi refuge religion Remillard Salaam School Sharkey sionaries Smith social welfare Society Suez Canal Police Sulayman summer of 1933 Swedish Mission Story Swedish Salaam Mission Trasher Turkia Turkiyya Hasan affair Ulama wet nurses