1977: The Lost Revolution
The year 1976 was more or less a dress rehearsal for the 1977 uprising. The conditions of the economy can be best described by the finance minister's statement that 1975 had beenthe “worst economic year in the history of modern Egypt.” The Prime Minister called for more austerity measures and sought help from “Arab brothers”.
Egypt was on the brink of a social explosion. Violent confrontations took place between strikers and policeforces in the Nile Delta city of Damiette in March, when workers demonstrated,demanding the unpaid wages of 18 days of work. The regime, under pressure, releasedthe detained workers and responded to their demands. In May, workers in a militaryfactory went on strike and occupied the factory because of a conflict related to wages andwork conditions. The workers exhibited a high level of militancy, refusing to negotiatewith the Minister of Defense who arrived in the company of large military policeenforcement. Moreover, the workers threatened to blow up the factory. The minister succumbed at the end to the workers’ demands. In the following month, thousands of autoworkers went on strike demanding their share of profits.
The strikes spread to most of the industrial centers, with workers stopping work at lighttransportation factory in Helwan, Misr-Helwan Textile factory, El-Sharqyya TobaccoCompany, the Naval Arsenal in Alexandria and Port Said. Events similar to 1975Mahalla strike was also to be repeated in Kafr el-Dawwar, with factory- occupations andviolent confrontations leading to the injury and death of a number of workers. Theseclashes were accompanied by an uprising in the city of Nile Delta city of Manzallahagainst police torture, followed by citizens’ raids and storming of police stations inShoubra el-Kheima, el-Sayyeda Zeinab and el-Darb el-Ahmar protesting against police brutality. Finally, in a move that clearly showed Sadat’s eroding legitimacy, Cairo publictransport workers went on strike in less that 24 hours following the presidential re-election of Sadat in a sham referendum
whose results were 99% “Yes,” causing life in thecity to come to a complete halt for two days.
On the night of 17 January 1977, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Abdel-Moneim el-Qaissouny addressed the parliament, followed by the minister of planing who presentedthe annual socioeconomic development plan; then finally the minister of finance presented the general government balance for the 1977 financial year.
The government’snew plans meant a direct increase in the prices of several commodities, eliminating
Al-Thawra wa ‘l-Thawra el-Moddadda fi Misr
(Revolution and counterrevolutionin Egypt). Kitab El-Ahali. no.15. Cairo: El-Ahali September 1987, Page 217.
Al-Niqabat al-‘ummalya al-Missrya: Ro’ya Thawrya
(The Egyptian labor unions: a revolutionary view). Korrassat Ishtirakyya, no.3. Cairo: n.p., 1996, Page 61.
Shoukri, 259, 345.1