DP16431 The Demand for Extraterritoriality: Religious Minorities in Nineteenth-Century Egypt

Author(s): Cihan Artunç, Mohamed Saleh
Publication Date: August 2021
Keyword(s): extraterritoriality, legal pluralism, Middle East, non-Muslim minorities, protégé
JEL(s): K40, N35, N45
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16431

The transplantation of European legal systems in the periphery often occurred via semi-colonial institutions, where Europeans were subject to their own jurisdictions that placed them outside the reach of local courts. In nineteenth-century Egypt, extraterritoriality was extended to local non-Muslims, who could acquire the legal protection of a European polity. Drawing on Egypt's population censuses in 1848 and 1868, we show that locals did not seek extraterritoriality to place themselves under more efficient jurisdictions. Rather, legal protection mitigated uncertainty about which law would apply to any contractual relationship in an environment where multiple legal systems co-existed and overlapped.