On this date in 1952, Egypt’s revolutionary military government sent a gallows warning to the labor movement.
The towering political of the whole Arab world until his death in 1970, Gamal Abdel Nasser led a coup that toppled Egypt’s monarchy just weeks prior to the execution we mark here. (On July 23, 1952; it’s known for that reason as the July 23 Revolution.)
They had bold plans for their countrymen, these young officers: egalitarian land reform, pan-Arabism, release from the hated grip of colonialism.
But don’t mistake that for an invitation to present just any grievance.
the Free Officers were not willing to tolerate a militant, independent trade union movement. The armed forces and workers clashed in Kafr al-Dawwar, 15 miles south of Alexandria. On August 12 and 13, 1952, the 9,000 workers at the Misr Fine Spinning and Weaving Company conducted a strike and demonstration seeking a freely elected union (a pro-company, yellow union had been established in 1943), removal of several managers considered particularly abusive, and the satisfaction of economic demands. Despite the workers’ proclaimed support for the new regime, the army quickly intervened to crush them. A rapidly convened military tribunal convicted 13 workers. Eleven received prison sentences; Mustafa Khamis and Muhammad al-Baqri were sentenced to death and executed on September 7. (Source)
Nasserite Egypt quashed independent labor organizing in these early years, eventually banning all union activity outside of the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation.