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To this administrative medley must be added the [Pg 113] complications caused by the Ottoman Capitulations—by which fourteen foreign governments, including our own, exercise almost sovereign rights in Egypt, the International Tribunals, or “Mixed Courts,” in the control of which Egypt has almost nothing to say, giving them complete jurisdiction in all civil cases in which aliens may be involved with each other or with Egyptians, while the foreign consuls possess absolute authority in criminal cases where their nationals are concerned.

The Capitulations, many of which date back to the early days of Turkish power, are nothing less than guarantees to foreigners within the Ottoman dominions of full and complete immunity from the laws governing Turkish subjects. No reciprocal obligation was constituted by a Capitulation (which, by the way, means
the terms of an agreement), as it was intended to be a purely gratuitous concession granted to Christians, by virtue of which they were tolerated upon the soil of Islam. Though the Capitulations were never regarded by the Turks as treaties—it being obvious that the Commander of the Faithful, who is likewise the Successor of the Prophet and the Shadow of Allah, could never treat a Christian ruler as an equal—they have all the character and force of treaties nevertheless, inviolability of domicile, freedom from taxation of every sort, and immunity from arrest for any offence whatsoever being but items in the comprehensive promise not to molest the foreigner. In short, the Capitulations give to the nations possessing them as complete jurisdiction over their citizens as [Pg 114] they exercise at home, the Egyptian Government being powerless to lay so much as a finger on a foreigner who breaks its laws the scene of a violent and murderous attack.
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Should an American sailor, for example, become involved in a drunken affray, as sometimes happens, and wound or kill an Egyptian, the Egyptian police would no more arrest him than they would the Khedive. They would merely keep him under surveillance, meanwhile notifying the American consul, who would despatch his kavasses, as the armed guards which are attached—also by virtue of the Capitulations—to the various consulates are called, to effect the man's arrest. He would then be tried by the consul, who possesses magisterial powers, before a jury drawn from American residents or tourists, and, if found guilty, would be confined in one of the several consular prisons which the United States maintains in the Turkish Empire, although, if the sentence were a long one, he would probably be sent to a prison in this country to serve it out.

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