Puneet Varma (Editor)

1956–57 exodus and expulsions from Egypt

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1956–57 exodus and expulsions from Egypt

The 1956–57 exodus and expulsions from Egypt was the exodus and expulsion of Egypt's Mutamassirun community, which began during the latter stages of the Suez Crisis in Nasserist Egypt.



The exodus of the foreign Mutamassirun ("Egyptianized") community, which included the British and French colonial powers as well as Jews, Greeks, Italians, Syrians, Armenians, began following the First World War, and by the end of the 1960s the exodus of the foreign community was effectively complete. According to Andrew Gorman, this was primarily a result of the "decolonization process and the rise of Egyptian nationalism". In addition, there was a small indigenous Jewish community, although most Jews in Egypt in the early twentieth century were recent immigrants to the country, who did not share the Arabic language and culture. Until the late 1930s, the foreign minorities, including both indigenous and recent immigrant Jews, tended to apply for foreign citizenship in order to benefit from a foreign protection.

In October 1956, following the invasion of Britain, France and Israel in the Suez Crisis, President Gamal Abdel Nasser brought in a set of sweeping regulations abolishing civil liberties and allowing the state to stage mass arrests without charge and strip away Egyptian citizenship from any group it desired. Some lawyers, engineers, doctors and teachers were not allowed to work in their professions. As part of its new policy, 1,000 Jews were arrested and 500 Jewish businesses were seized by the government. Jewish bank accounts were confiscated and many Jews lost their jobs.


The actions taken to encourage emigration or expel the foreign minorities applied to the whole Mutamassirun community, and after 1956 large majority of Greeks, Italians, Belgians, French, and British, including Jews, left the country. The decree was also relevant to Egyptian Jews suspected as Zionist agents, especially those with free professions and relatives in Israel.

The expellees were allowed to take only one suitcase and a small sum of cash, and forced to sign declarations “donating“ their property to the Egyptian government.

Foreign observers reported that some members of Jewish families were taken hostage, apparently to insure that those forced to leave did not speak out against the Egyptian government. Some 25,000 Jews, almost half of the Jewish community in Egypt left, mainly for Israel, Europe, the United States and South America. Many were forced to sign declarations that they were leaving voluntarily and agreed with the confiscation of their assets. Similar measures were enacted against British and French nationals in retaliation for the invasion. By 1957 the Jewish population of Egypt had fallen to 15,000.

The Guardian correspondent Michael Adams noted in 1958 that the Egyptian government ultimately only expelled a small minority of the Jewish population of Egypt, though many Jews also left of their own accord. This is supported by Laskier who claims: "It is estimated that as early as the end of November 1956 at least 500 Egyptian and stateless Jews had been expelled from Egypt". In contrast The Algemeiner claims that "around 25 000 Jews were expelled that year (1956)", equivalent to all of the Jews who left Egypt in 1956.

On December 9, 1956, Egyptian Interior Minister Zakaria Mohieddin stated that of Egypt's 18,000 British and French citizens, 1,452 had been ordered to be expelled.


1956–57 exodus and expulsions from Egypt Wikipedia

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