No changes in the administration were made by the Arabs, who adopted the Byzantine decentralized system of provincial governors reporting to a chief governor, resident in the capital, Alexandria. They did, however, later move the capital to a new, more central location, called Al Fustat (“the tent”), a few miles south of present-day Cairo.
For the next two centuries Egypt was ruled by governors appointed by the caliph, the leader of the Muslim community. In this system, mild and generous rule alternated with severity and religious oppression, depending on the character of the governor appointed, his relationship with the population, and his financial needs. Immigration of Arab tribes and the replacement of the Coptic language by Arabic in all public documents began a slow process of Arabization that was eventually to turn Coptic-speaking Christian Egypt into a largely Muslim and wholly Arabic-speaking country. Coptic became a liturgical language.
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