Effects of Nasser on Egyptian Society

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Outline the changes in Egyptian society as a result of Nasser‘s policies from 1952 - 1970.

Gamal Abdel Nasser, was the second Egyptian president. He ruled from 1956 up to 1970 and is responsible for some of the drastic changes in the Egyptian society. Some of which are caused by the introduction of a Land Reform, which limited land ownership to 200 feddans (≈200 acres), the reformation of the educational system, new rights for women such as the right to vote, and industrialising the country, but also the persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood and propaganda. These policies had strong impact on Egyptian society which will be examined in the following.

One of Nasser‘s first and probably one of his biggest domestic achievements is the Land Reform, which had its origin on the 11.September.1952 (A second one took place in 1961).Prior to the reform, less than 6% of the Egyptian population owned more than 65% of the Land. These few, but major land owners had almost autocratic control over the land and charged immensely high rents which averaged 75% of the income generated by the land.

 This drove many of the small farmers and peasants into debt. The peasants wage was so low and their situation so bad that the historian Anouar Abdel Malek called them "an exploited mass surrounded by hunger, disease and death".

 The Land Reforms aim was to change these circumstances and so land owners were prohibited to possess more than 200 feddans (≈200 acres) of land. However, fathers with more than 2 children were allowed to own 300 feddans. A limit on the rental rate for land was set and land leases were given a minimum duration of three years. Furthermore the government established co-operatives for farmers holding less than five feddans. The members of these co-operatives worked together to share supplies such as fertilisers, pesticides, and seeds and a minimum wage for agricultural workers was set. This explains why Nasser saw the Land Reform as the act that gave his Revolution Command Council (RCC) identity and transformed his coup to a revolution.

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 The Land reform had of course a big impact on the Society, as the rich upper class of major land owners did not exist anymore and so the simple farmer obtained more power. Furthermore and even more important is the fact that it decreased the poverty of the peasants. However some Historians argue that the Land Reform did not have such big impact on Egyptian Society in the long run, as a big part of the people employed in the agricultural sector moved away from it as industrialisation proceeded. But it  definitely started the move towards a bigger middle class, ...

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