Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
30 Dec. 1999 - 5 Jan. 2000
Issue No. 462
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues
20th century Special issue  [INDEX]

< 1950-59 1960 - 1969 1970-79 >
Ben Bella, Khruschov, Nasser, Aref and Amer
TV will be here within 15 days!
Soldiers return from Yemen
Umm Kulthoum
Ahmed Bahaaeddin
Pope Kirollos
Salah Jahin
War of Attrition Nasser announcing the defeat
Sayed Qutb Abdel-Moneim Riad

This was the decade during which Gamal Abdel-Nasser's major policies came into their own. The public sector established through the sequestrations of 1956 was to become the nucleus of a massive industrialisation drive. The '60s witnessed the dramatic rise of Egypt's experiment in socialism: in 1960 and '61 the bulk of Egyptian industry and commerce was nationalised.

Other momentous events included the 1961 introduction of television (left, second from top), an efficient tool of propaganda in rallying public opinion, and the collapse in 1962 of the merger with Syria, which had created the United Arab Republic.

Meanwhile, work on the High Dam (main picture), supervised by Russian experts, was proceeding apace. The inauguration of the first phase of its completion took place in 1964 amidst great celebrations (top left, Nasser flanked by Nikita Khrushchev and Ahmed Ben Bella and on one side, Abdel-Salam Aref and Abdel-Hakim Amer on the other).

As an indication of the changing political climate, a large number of communists imprisoned in the late '50s were released in 1964, and national unity was boosted by the close friendship between Nasser and Pope Kirollos (sidebar, third from bottom). At mid-decade, the clamp-down on the Muslim Brotherhood was launched, culminating in the execution of Islamic thinker Sayed Qutb in 1965 (bottom left).

In May 1967, Egypt was for all practical purposes trapped in military mobilisation against Israel. On 5 June Israel, fully backed and abetted by the US, launched a blitz attack on Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The "Six-Day" War ended in the ignominious defeat of the Arabs, and the occupation of Gaza, the Sinai, the Golan and the West Bank. Soldiers were brought back from the Yemen (left, third from top); many lost their lives that year. On 9 June, Nasser announced the defeat to a stunned and deeply humiliated nation (bottom, second from right) and offered to resign; people flooded the streets, demanding that he stay and vowing to fight on.

The War of Attrition (left, second from bottom) came close on the heels of the defeat and was to last until mid-1970. During that period, Israel's air force bombarded the primary school of Bahr Al-Baqar in the Delta, killing and wounding dozens of children. Among the heroes who fell during the War of Attrition was Abdel-Moneim Riad (bottom, second from left), Nasser's popular chief of staff, whose 1969 funeral rallied millions of mourners.

The decade also witnessed worldwide student uprisings: in Egypt, the 1968 demonstrations of students and workers brought together tens of thousands of demonstrators; on 30 March, the regime pledged to move towards democratisation and reform, but the groundswell of protest was slow to abate.

Abdel-Halim HafizThe 1960s, too, were marked by cultural icons like Umm Kulthoum (sidebar, top), whose Thursday concerts emptied Cairo's streets as millions turned on the radio and prepared to listen in hushed awe to the diva's incomparable voice; journalist Ahmed Bahaaeddin (sidebar, second from top), whose forceful opinions, calm tone and impeccable ethical stands won the undying loyalty of his many readers, friends and foes alike; actor and singer Abdel-Halim Hafiz, the quintessential jeune premier (right); and Salah Jahin (sidebar, second from bottom), the decade's 'pessoptimistic' bard of life and love, adulated until today.


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