Persia lacked the capital to develop its own resources. To raise money and to gain economic prestige, the Persian ruler began granting concessions to Western busi- nesses. These concessions allowed businesses to buy the right to operate in a certain area or develop a certain product. For example, a British corporation, the Anglo- Persian Oil Company, began to develop Persia’s rich oil fields in the early 1900s. The Age of Imperialism 789 Suez Canal The Suez Canal was viewed as the “Lifeline of the Empire” because it allowed Britain quicker access to its colonies in Asia and Africa. In a speech to Parliament, Joseph Chamberlain explained that he believed Britain should continue its occupation of Egypt because of “the necessity for using every legitimate opportunity to extend our influence and control in that great African continent which is now being opened up to civilization and to commerce.“ This painting represents the opening celebration of the canal on November 17, 1869. 30 ° N 35 ° E 30 ° E Mediterranean Sea N i l e R . Suez Canal Red Sea S I N A I E G Y P T 0 0 100 Miles 200 Kilometers GEOGRAPHY SKILLBUILDER: Interpreting Maps Place Approximately how long is the Suez Canal?
790 Chapter 27 Battle over Tobacco Tension arose between the often corrupt rulers, who wanted to sell concessions to Europeans, and the people. The people were often backed by religious leaders who feared change or disliked Western influence in their nation. In 1890, Persian ruler Nasir al-Din sold a concession to a British company to export Persian tobacco. This action outraged Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, a leader who supported the modernization of Persia. He helped set up a tobacco boycott by the heavy-smoking Persians. In the following quote, he expresses his contempt for the Persian ruler: P R I M A R Y S O U R C E He has sold to the foes of our Faith the greater part of the Persian lands and the profits derived from them, for example . . . tobacco, with the chief centers of its cultivation, the lands on which it is grown and the warehouses, carriers, and sellers, wherever these are found. . . . In short, this criminal has offered the provinces of Persia to auction among the Powers, and is selling the realms of Islam and the abodes of Muhammad and his household to foreigners. JAMAL AL-DIN AL-AFGHANI, in a letter to Hasan Shirazi, April 1891 The tobacco boycott worked. Riots broke out, and the ruler was forced to can- cel the concession. As unrest continued in Persia, however, the government was unable to control the situation. In 1906, a group of revolutionaries forced the ruler to establish a constitution. In 1907, Russia and Britain took over the country and divided it into spheres of influence. They exercised economic control over Persia. In the Muslim lands, many European imperialists gained control by using eco- nomic imperialism and creating spheres of influence. Although some governments made attempts to modernize their nations, in most cases it was too little too late. In other areas of the globe, imperialists provided the modernization. India, for exam-
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