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66 Years Ago Today - Suez Canal Nationalized by Egypt

66 Years Ago Today - Suez Canal Nationalized by Egypt

66 years ago today, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the historic nationalization of the Suez Canal, previously controlled by the British and the French.

In a speech in Alexandria on July 26, Nasser intentionally mentioned the name of Ferdinand de Lesseps, the “developer” of the canal, as a code word for the Egyptian military to return control of the canal and fulfill its nationalization.

A statue of De Lesseps that was erected at the canal would soon be destroyed by Egyptians.

De Lesseps, the man behind the canal project, is hailed as a national hero in France. But the 1.5 million workers who constructed the canal are almost erased from history.

Records from the Library of Alexandria show that smallpox, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and cholera were all common diseases, “the latter being so deadly that in 1865 there were not enough men to carry the corpses.”

According to Egyptian historians, around 100,000 forcibly conscripted workers died during the ten-year construction period.

 

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