CAIRO – 9 June 2021: Today marks the 54th anniversary of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s famous speech of stepping down.
Nasser announced on June 9, 1967, in a speech to the people of Egypt, that he would step down from the presidency due to the Egyptian Army’s defeat in the Six-Day War on June 5, 1967, bearing the full responsibility for such defeat.
Yet, millions of Egyptians flooded the streets the day after to protest the decision, which led Nasser to retract it.
Why did the people refuse the decision despite the defeat?
“What happened on June 10 is full of amazing surprises for the whole world. Masses of people came out as soon as Gamal Abdel Nasser finished his speech, demanding that he stays to continue his work. The masses came out in every Arab country insisting on continuing the battle under the leadership of Abdel Nasser,” said Mohamed Hassanain Heikal in his book “Kalam Fel Seyaya” [Talks in Politics].
Heikal further explained, “Abdel Nasser remained in shock for hours, not believing what happened, and why it happened. I answered his confusion by saying that the people do not know any leader but him, and that even though he is the one responsible for the defeat, he must also be the one who finds an honorable way out of the crisis. The masses of the nation had already taken a decision to stand up and fight.”