Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr: Socialist intellectual (1936-2021)

Mona El-Nahhas , Wednesday 3 Nov 2021

Socialist intellectual  (1936-2021)
Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr

Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr, the veteran leftist leader and former vice-chairman of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), passed away on Sunday at the age of 85.

Shukr’s family announced his death on Facebook. His funeral, held on Sunday in Tirah village, Daqahliya, was attended by hundreds of people, including many leading politicians.

The NCHR issued a statement saying it mourned the passing of a “great thinker”.

Shukr was born in 1936. His grandfather was the mayor of Tirah village, a post which his father then held between 1943 and 1946 before being dismissed because of his support for the Wafd Party. When Shukr was 11, his father died of a heart attack.  

Shukr’s involvement in politics began in 1953, while he was still a high school student. He joined a succession of left-wing movements that supported the 1952 Revolution including, in 1953, following the dissolution of political parties, the Liberation Organisation.

In 1958 Shukr graduated from the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University, and almost immediately joined the National Union, founded by president Gamal Abdel-Nasser as a replacement for the disbanded Liberation Organisation. In 1963, he joined the Socialist Union, also founded by Nasser, and in 1964 became a trustee for education in the Socialist Youth Organisation, a Socialist Union affiliate.

Shukr also played a role in the Vanguard Organisation, secretive offshoot of the Socialist Union  assigned with training cadres to protect the 1952 Revolution.

Under president Anwar Al-Sadat Shukr became a leading member of the leftist Tagammu Party, and in 1981 was among many prominent figures to be detained because of their opposition to the 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel.

Shukr wrote several books expounding his views on democracy, social justice and equality, including Issues and Experiences of Partisan and Political Work, Globalisation and Capitalism and their Impact on the Arab World, Renewing the Egyptian National Progressive Movement, and The Role of Civil Society in Building Democracy, and published a number of studies in Arab periodicals.

Among the positions Shukr held were vice president of the Arab and African Research Centre, and chairman of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, which he founded in the wake of the 2011 revolution after quitting the Tagammu Party.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


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