Turks in Egypt

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Egyptian Turkmens
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups

Egyptian Turks also referred to as Turco-Egyptians or Egyptian Turkoman,[3] (Turkish: Mısır Türkleri) are Egyptian citizens of Turkish descent, who have been living in the Egypt since the Turkish Mamluks and continue to live there.

In the years before the Egyptian revolution, the ruling and upper classes were mainly Turkish, or of Turkish descent, which was part of the heritage from the Ottoman rule of Egypt.[4]


Main articles: Bahri dynasty and Ottoman Egypt

Turks had formed a part of the state or military apparatus as "Mamluks" in Syria and Egypt since at least the 9th century, during the Tulunid period.[5] Most of the mamluks in the Ayyubids' service were ethnic Kipchak Turks from Central Asia, who, upon entering service, were converted to Sunni Islam and taught Arabic.[6] In 1263, Turks became a power in Egypt and Baybars, founder of the Turkic Bahri dynasty, rebuilt and stringently trained the Mamluk army, which grew from 10,000 cavalry to 40,000, with a 4,000-strong royal guard at its core.[7] The new force was rigidly disciplined and highly trained in horsemanship, swordsmanship and archery.[7] However, Baybars success in establishing centralized rule resulted in the consolidation of the Mamluk Sultanate.[8] Through opening diplomatic channels with the Mongols, Baybars also sought to stifle a potential alliance between the Mongols and the Christian powers of Europe, while also sowing divisions between the Mongol Ilkhanate and the Mongol Golden Horde. In addition, his diplomacy was also intended to maintain the flow of Turkic mamluks from Mongol-held Central Asia.[8]

In 1382 the last Bahri Sultan Hajji II was dethroned and the Sultanate was taken over by the Circassian Emir Barquq. He was expelled in 1389 but returned to power in 1390, setting up the succeeding Burji dynasty.[9]

In 1515 there began the war with the Ottoman sultan Selim I which led to the incorporation of Egypt and its dependencies into the Ottoman Empire. A result of the Circassian Mamluk cavalry charges proving to be no match for the Ottoman artillery and the janissaries. Egyptian sultan Kansuh was charged by Selim with giving the envoys of the Safavid Ismail passage through Syria on their way to Venice to form a confederacy against the Turks, and with harbouring various refugees. At the Battle of Merj Dabik, on August 24, 1515, Kansuh was killed in the fighting. Syria passed into Turkish possession, who were welcomed in many places as deliverance from the Mamelukes.

In 1517 the Ottoman Turks and their sultan Selim I defeated the Mamluks with the capture of Cairo on January 20. The centre of power transferred from Cairo to Constantinople. However, the Ottoman Empire retained the Mamluks as an Egyptian ruling class and the Mamluks and the Burji family succeeded in regaining much of their influence, but remained technical vassals of the Ottomans.

During the Ottomans period, the Turks among them numbered between ten and thirty thousand. A large proportion of these lived in Cairo, with others living in Alexandria; in addition, between twelve and twenty individuals lived in other cities and two or three more lived in the villages.[10][11] they occupied the highest offices and ranks in both military and civilian life, filling, in the first years of Muhammad Ali’s reign, all administrative positions down to the middle levels. We may further claim that Turks held the dominant position among active social groups, especially in the major cities.


There are no clear estimates on the number of Turkmen in Egypt. No official statistics exist: Egypt's population census does not record ethnic origin, language, or religion. Historical estimates from 1833 put the Turkmen population at 30,000.[12] Sunni Islam, the Turkmens' shared religion with the majority of Egyptians, eased Turkmen assimilation in Egyptian society and in certain regions where Turkmens live, they are "almost completely Arabized".[13]

The number of Turks living in Egypt vary considerably with estimates ranging from 100,000[14] to1,500,000.[2]

Notable people[edit]

Name Life Notability Turkish link
Adel Adham
Tatamkulu Afrika 1920–2002 Poet Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[15]
Zakariyya Ahmad 1896–1961 Musician Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[16]
Leila Ahmed 1960 Writer Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[17]
Ismail Mustafa al-Falaki 1825–1901 Astronomer and mathematician Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[18]
Tawfiq al-Hakim 1898–1987 Writer Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[19]
Mustafa Lutfi al-Manfaluti 1876–1924 Writer Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[20]
Ayesha Al-Taymuriyya 1840–1902 Writer Egyptian-born to a Turkish father[21]
Qasim Amin 1863–1908 Women's rights activists Egyptian-born to a Turkish father[22]
Azza Badr 1961 Writer and Journalist Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[23]
Ali Bahjat 1858–1924 Archaeologist and historian Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[24]
Khair Bey
Hussein Bikar 1912–2002 Painter Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[25]
Abbas II of Egypt 1874–1944 Khedive of Egypt Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[26]
Abdel Rahman Fahmy 1924 Writer Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[27]
Mohammad Farid 1868–1919 Historian Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[28]
Yahya Haqqi 1905–1992 Writer Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[29]
Aziza Husayn 1919 Social welfare expert Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[30]
Ahmed Hussein 1902-? Social scientist and reformer Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[31]
Hafez Ibrahim 1872–1932 Poet Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[32]
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu 1943 Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[33]
Khalid Islambouli 1957–1982 Army officer Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[34]
Shaykh ‘Abd al-’Aziz Jawish 1872–1929 Educator Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[35]
Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu 1889–1974 Writer Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[36]
Ahmad Mazlum 1858–1928 Cabinet minister and parliamentary leader Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[37]
Abdul Muhammad 1849-1905 Religious reformer and writer Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[38]
Muhammad Naji 1888–1956 Painter Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[39]
Wedad Orfi 1900-1969 Filmmaker Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[40]
Hussein Refki Pasha 1876-1950 War Minister and Senator
Isma'il Pasha 1830–1895 Khedive of Egypt Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[41]
Mustafa Fahmi Pasha 1840–1914 Prime Minister of Egypt Cretan-born to a Turkish family[42]
Shahin Kinjm Pasha Soldier and Statesman [43]
Muhammad Tawfiq Nasim Pasha 1875–1938 Prime Minister of Egypt Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[44]
Hussein Rushdi Pasha 1863–1928 Prime Minister of Egypt Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[45]
Ismail Sadiq Pasha  ?-1876 Minister of Finance Egyptian-born to a Turkish father[46]
Muhammad Said Pasha 1863–1928 Prime Minister of Egypt Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[47]
Muhammad Sharif Pasha 1826–1887 Prime Minister of Egypt Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[48]
Muhammed Taher Pasha
Tewfik Pasha
Tusun Pasha
Muhammad Qadir 1821–1888 Judge and writer Egyptian-born to a Turkish father[49]
Ihsan Abdel Quddous
Bahigah Rashid  ? Women's rights activists Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[50]
Hind Rostom 1929–2011 Actress Egyptian-born to Turkish parents[51]
Ali Sabri 1920–1991 Prime Minister of Egypt Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[52]
Ahmed Shawqi 1869–1932 Writer Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[53]
Ibn Taghribirdi
Muhammad Wali al-Din Yakan 1873–1921 Writer Istanbul-born Turco-Egyptian[54]
Safiya Zaghloul 1876–1946 Political activist Egyptian-born to a family of Turkish origin[55]
Maurice Zilber 1920–2008 Horse trainer Egyptian-born to a Turkish mother[56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baedeker 2000, lviii.
  2. ^ a b Akar 1993, 94.
  3. ^ Baring 2005, 169.
  4. ^ Abdelrazek 2007, 37.
  5. ^ Clifford 2013, p. 65.
  6. ^ Cummins 2011, p. 94.
  7. ^ a b Asbridge 2010, p. 95.
  8. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference Asbridge923 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp.140-142/vol.5
  10. ^ According to some, the population of Cairo itself at the time of the French occupation numbered around 263,700 persons. E.W. Lane believed that the number was closer to 240,000.
  11. ^ John Bowring, Report on Egypt 1828–1839: Under the Reign of Mohamed Ali (London: Triade, 1998).
  12. ^ Georges Douin, ed., La mission du Baron de Boislecomte, l’Egypte et la Syrie en 1833 (Cairo: Royal Egyptian Geographical Society, 1927), 110.
  13. ^ Khaled Fahmy, “The Era of Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha, 1805–1848,” in The Cambridge History of Egypt, II: Modern Egypt from 1517 to the End of the Twentieth Century, ed. M.W. Daly (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 178–79.
  14. ^ Baedeker 2000, lviii.
  15. ^ Olaussen & Angelfors 2009, 88.
  16. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 17.
  17. ^ Abdelrazek 2007, 21.
  18. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 52.
  19. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 67.
  20. ^ Moosa 1997, 109.
  21. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 211.
  22. ^ Nelson 1996, 27.
  23. ^ Brugman 1984, 263.
  24. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 32.
  25. ^ Bahaiviews. "On Baha'i Painters: Hussein Bikar and the Treatment of Baha'is in Egypt". Retrieved 2011-02-04. 
  26. ^ Brugman 1984, 40.
  27. ^ Manzalaoui 1986, 193.
  28. ^ Iggers, Wang & Mukherjee 2008, 196.
  29. ^ Brugman 1984, 263.
  30. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 80.
  31. ^ Johnson 2004, 1.
  32. ^ Badawī 1975, 42.
  33. ^ Organisation of the Islamic Conference. "Biography of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu". Retrieved 2011-02-04. 
  34. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 90.
  35. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 96.
  36. ^ Jongerden 2007, 193.
  37. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 128.
  38. ^ Carstens 2014, 13.
  39. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 150.
  40. ^ Armes 2008, 105.
  41. ^ Lababidi 2008, 37.
  42. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 51.
  43. ^ Carstens 2014, 612.
  44. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 153.
  45. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 169.
  46. ^ Carstens 2014, 358.
  47. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 178.
  48. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 191.
  49. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 159.
  50. ^ Badran 1996, 97.
  51. ^ The Daily News Egypt (2011-08-09). "Egyptian screen legend, seductress Hind Rostom dies at 82". The Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  52. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 169.
  53. ^ Brugman 1984, 35.
  54. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 229.
  55. ^ Goldschmidt 2000, 235.
  56. ^ Independent (2009-01-30). "Obits in Brief: Maurice Zilber". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2011-02-04. 


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