Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Fellahin

Fellahin (plural of Fellah, a labourer or peasant), the collective name of all the agricultural as opposed to the pastoral or nomad Arabs (Beddwin), but applied in a special and somewhat contemptible sense to the peasantry of Egypt and Syria, most of whom are not originally Arabs, though now speaking Arabic. The Fellahin live in villages under the government of a Sheykh-el-Beled, who has to see that their taxes are regularly paid to the Nazir or governor of the district. A Fellah may rise to the position of Sheykh or Nazir, but the governors of provinces are invariably Turks. The villagers are miserably poor, and suffer cruel treatment at the hands of the Turks. The taxes are excessive and uncertain, and the governors often extort more than the legal amount. The condition of the Fellahin in this respect has, however, somewhat improved during the British occupation. Although their food is scanty - consisting chiefly of bread made of maize or millet, eggs, and raw vegetables, or in the case of the very poor of coarse bread and the mixture called "dukkah" - they are remarkably vigorous, and capable of undergoing great fatigue. They usually marry as soon as they can afford a dowry, as they are glad to obtain the assistance of a wife and children on their farms. They are described as affectionate parents, but when reduced to great poverty they are sometimes induced to sell their children to their fellow-villagers. The term is also applied, though apparently not in a depreciative sense, to the eight tribes of the Nisibin district in the Middle Euphrates valley, who are now subject to the powerful Shamur Arabs. These are the Sebflr, Baggara, Sherabrin, Khudhr, Harb, Hadidrin, Albu Aetsi, and Ghassameh, in all 52,000.