From Kafr al-Dawwar to Kharga’s ‘Desert Hell Camp’: the repression of Communist workers in Egypt, 1952-1965


1 November 2015


Volume 1 – Number 7

How to cite

Derek Alan Ide



This article explores the multifaceted dynamic that existed between the Egyptian Marxist movement and the Egyptian state under Gamal Abd al-Nasser, focusing heavily on the two periods of repression against the communist movement from 1952-1956 and from 1959- 1965. This article contends that the potential in Egypt for a significant communist presence with a working class base, in contrast with other writers who posit the “inescapably middle class” nature of the communist movement, was weakened significantly by a combination of repression and nearly uncritical acquiescence to Nasserist nationalism. The first period of repression was characterized by the imprisonment of a large portion of working-class communists. This was less true of the second period of repression since by 1965, when the communists voluntarily dissolved their organizations, Nasser had effectively neutralized communist control over the trade-union movement. Furthermore, the communists had lost the support they had won in the immediate post-World War II period. This was something they would never regain.


Repression, Communist workers, Egypt, 1952-1965, Nasser