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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Egypt remembers Nasser
Nasser's sons sit underneath a portrait of their late father
Nasser's three sons attended the memorial ceremony
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

It is thirty years today since the former Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, died of a heart attack.

His death brought millions onto the streets to grieve, but today just a few dozen attended a family ceremony at his mausoleum in Cairo.

Simple prayers were held for the man once seen as the champion of the entire Arab world.

Many of Nasser's policies have now been dismantled, but among the poor he remains a hero.

Nasser was a charismatic man of the masses who introduced free education and stood up to the British and Israel, but lost disastrously in the 1967 war.

Legacy

Today Egyptians are divided over his legacy.

tomb of late Egyptian President Gamal al Nasser
The ceremony was small and dignified
His land reforms in favour of Egypt's peasants were reversed in 1997, and an ongoing programme of privatisation has created a new consumer society.

But this has hurt the very poor, who are among those who came to remember him.

One woman, who travelled from a village in the Nile Delta, wept uncontrollably over his marble grave which had been covered in roses.

Arab unity

A small band of Nasserists denounced Egypt's peace with Israel and factory sell offs. Thirty years on they form only a tiny opposition party.

late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser
Nasser was seen as a champion of the Arab world
Nasser is remembered for political repression, as well as social services, but many Egyptians, and other Arabs, still hold to Nasser's dream of Arab unity and social justice.

And among those who worry about the price of rice, he remains a hero.

He loved and stood up for the poor, one street sweeper said, and those days are gone.

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21 Sep 00 | Middle East
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