Egypt Table of Contents
Since the early 1950s, Egypt has banned the Communist Party of Egypt (CPE), which was formed in 1921. The National Progressive Unionist Organization (a bloc of leftist factions including some Marxists), however, was legal. Egyptian communism has traditionally been a general movement of leftist factions rather than the platform of a cohesive single party. Before the 1952 Revolution, the movement was represented by the CPE as well as smaller groups with names such as the Egyptian Movement for National Liberation, the Spark, the Vanguard, the Marxist League, and the New Dawn.
After the overthrow of the monarchy, Marxist groups endorsed the new regime but withdrew their support when the Revolutionary Command Council declared that Marxism was dangerous to state security and imprisoned many leftists. When Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev visited Cairo in 1964, Nasser released all imprisoned leftists. During the remainder of the 1960s, most leftists abandoned their illegal groups and joined the government party, the Arab Socialist Union (ASU). Many occupied important positions, but their views and activities could not exceed the bounds of government tolerance. In 1971 Sadat dismissed a number of Marxists and known Soviet sympathizers from the ASU. Sadat again purged leftists from the ASU after he expelled Soviet advisers from Egypt in 1972 and after riots later that year and in early 1973. Sadat blamed them for inciting unrest. After the 1977 food riots and the 1986 police conscripts' riots, some observers blamed communist involvement, but most observers believed the riots were almost entirely spontaneous. An underground group, Thawrat Misr (Egypt's Revolution, also known as Thawrat Misr an Nassiriyah or Egypt's Nasserist Revolution), took credit for the murder of two Israeli diplomats and the attempted murders of several Israeli and United States embassy personnel between 1984 and 1987. In 1986 a number of members of the CPE were sentenced to prison for one to three years for producing and possessing subversive publications. Later that year, forty-four members of a secret leftist group, Al Ittijah ath Thawri (Revolutionary Tendency), were arrested on charges of planning to overthrow the regime and replace it with a Marxist system.
As of 1989, Egyptian left-wing groups remained factionalized. The CPE existed, but its membership was believed to be minuscule. Other organizations, with names such as the Egyptian Communist Workers' Party, the Popular Movement, the Revolutionary Progressive Party, and the Armed Communist Organization, claimed to be part of the leftist underground. Foreign observers believed that the potential threat of these groups to the security of the state was insignificant in comparison to the potential threat of Islamic extremists.
Data as of December 1990