Egyptian women resistance fighters in, 1956
This image above supposedly depicts Egyptian women fighters from Port Said, Egypt. A lot of images published like the one above by Nasser’s regime during the Suez Crisis claimed to be showing Egyptian women when in fact, a lot of them were actually of Greek origin. One prominent example of this is the following poster which purported to show a “young Egyptian woman” fighting for the honour of her country. The image is in fact of a young Greek woman, Popi Deligiorgi who was one of the first volunteers to join the Egyptian National Guard:
There were many other examples:
The Greek community in Egypt was once very well-established. At the start of the 20th century there were about 200,000 Greeks in Egypt. Today, the Greek community there has approximately 1,000 members.
It was a community that once controlled 80 per cent of Egypt’s financial life, founded the first bank, established the country’s first theatres and cinemas, and produced the first wines and cigarettes.
But this thriving community departed with the rise to power of Gamal Abdel Nasser and pan-Arab nationalism:
The exodus of Greeks from Egypt started during and after the revolution of 1952. With the establishment of the new sovereign regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser, rise of Pan-Arab nationalism and the subsequent nationalisation of many industries from 1957 and afterwards, thousands Greeks were forced to abandon the country. Many of them immigrated to Australia, the United States, Canada,South Africa, Western Europe, and Greece. Many Greek schools, churches, small communities and institutions subsequently closed. The Nasser regime was a major disaster for the Greek diaspora which afterwards has dwindled from many thousands to a handful. The dangerous situation in the Middle East has also deteriorated the conditions for the Greeks that stayed back in Egypt. It is estimated that between 1957 - 1962 almost 70% of the Egyptiot Greeks have left the country.
Nasser had no problem in exploiting the work of the Greeks in Egypt for his own propaganda and to maintain a polished image of his rule. When he no longer required their services, he simply had them leave the only life they knew in the country they had been born and raised in. We mustn’t forget the contributions of the Greeks and their history in Egypt.
If you’d like to find out more then I’d recommend you watch this fantastic documentary produced by Al Jazeera. You can also watch it in Arabic here.
[Wikipedia] [Al Jazeera] [ΑΡΧΑΙΑ ΑΙΓΥΠΤΟΣ]