Greeks and Egyptians are connected by ancient history — both descendants of two of the world’s oldest known civilizations.
Large numbers of Greek began settling in Egypt during the Hellenistic or Ptolemaic Period (305 BC – 30 BC). There were a series of migrations of Greeks into Egypt over the course of history. Much of Greek and Western thinking was shaped in Egypt.
Fast forward to the 20th century: Photos of Cairo and Alexandria ranging from the 1920s to the early 1960s show the cities as two cosmopolitan centers — more so than most European cities at the time. Egyptians, Greeks, Armenians, Italians, French, Syrians and Jews all lived and worked in harmony with one another.
At the start of the 20th century there were about 200,000 Greeks in Egypt. Today, only approximately 1,000 members of the community remain — a result of the large European exodus which took place after the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser and pan-Arab nationalism.
In the documentary “Egypt: The Other Homeland,” Al Jazeera tells the story of a bygone era when Egypt was home to a thriving Greek community.
The Greeks of Egypt once controlled 80 percent of the country’s financial life, founded the first bank, established the first theatres and cinemas and produced the first wines and cigarettes.
“Egypt: The Other Homeland” follows several Greek citizens who go back to Egypt to visit the land where they were born and raised. They visit their old homes and neighborhoods as well as former family businesses, and they search for the Egyptian friends they left behind.
“I feel lucky. Everyone has a homeland. But we, the Greeks of Egypt, have two homelands,” says Popi Deligiorgi, one of the interviewees. “Sometimes I am asked: ‘How did you feel in Egypt?’ I felt at home. I was never a stranger.”
Click here to watch the full documentary.
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