1977 Egyptian bread riots

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Cairo fires 1977

1977 Egyptian Bread Riots were a series of mass protests and riots that took place in Egypt from January 18 to January 19, 1977. The riots were a direct response to the government's decision to lift subsidies on basic foodstuffs, including bread, as part of an economic reform program backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This decision led to sudden and steep increases in the price of bread and other staple foods, which sparked widespread public outrage among the Egyptian population, particularly among the urban poor and working-class communities.

Background[edit | edit source]

The roots of the 1977 Egyptian Bread Riots can be traced back to the economic policies of the Egyptian government in the early 1970s. Under the leadership of President Anwar Sadat, Egypt embarked on an economic liberalization program known as the Open Door Policy (Infitah). This program aimed to attract foreign investment and reduce the state's role in the economy. However, by the mid-1970s, the Egyptian economy was facing significant challenges, including high levels of debt, inflation, and unemployment. In an attempt to address these issues, the government negotiated a series of loans with the IMF, which required Egypt to implement structural adjustment policies, including the removal of subsidies on food and other essential goods.

The Riots[edit | edit source]

The announcement of subsidy removals came on January 17, 1977, leading to immediate public discontent. The following day, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in cities across the country, including Cairo, Alexandria, and Giza. The protests quickly escalated into riots, with demonstrators clashing with police, setting fire to government buildings, and looting shops. The government responded by deploying the army and imposing a curfew. Despite these measures, the unrest continued until January 19, when President Sadat announced the reinstatement of subsidies and the withdrawal of the economic reform measures that had triggered the protests.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The 1977 Egyptian Bread Riots marked a significant moment in Egypt's modern history. They demonstrated the potential for popular unrest to influence government policy and highlighted the vulnerabilities of Egypt's economy. In the immediate aftermath of the riots, the government reinstated the subsidies on bread and other staples, temporarily alleviating public anger. However, the underlying economic issues that had contributed to the unrest remained unresolved. The riots also had political repercussions, leading to a crackdown on dissent and the imposition of stricter controls on the press and political opposition.

In the long term, the events of 1977 underscored the challenges facing governments in balancing economic reform with social stability. They also highlighted the importance of subsidies as a social safety net for the poorest segments of society in countries with significant economic disparities.

See Also[edit | edit source]


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