Saturday, January 13, 2007

Napoleon and the Arabs

The exhibition “Napoleon on the Nile” has on display prints, books, paintings, and letters of the period. Napoleon saw himself as spreading the ideals of French civilization. One proclamation had the following explanation next to the display:
Napoleon brought to Egypt an Arabic font requisitioned from the Vatican, along with people who knew how to set it. This proclamation to the Sheiks of the province of Bahire from General Auguste Marmont, Napoleon’s commander in Alexandria, is printed in both French and Arabic. In it, Marmont asks the Sheiks why they flee from the French troops, explaining that “they come not to oppress you, but to offer you help and protection against the Arabs who are bothering you.” He goes on to explain that he will be coming to their province and that they will witness his friendship for them. The proclamation closes urging the sheiks to make the inhabitants of their villages hear Marmont’s words of peace, and to tell them ‘I love those that love us, but I can punish our enemies.’”


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