Guernica Magazine

In Egypt, the Drying Up of Dissent

Recounting the past of the Eastern Desert is my only refuge given the dire constraints of the present. The post In Egypt, the Drying Up of Dissent appeared first on Guernica.
Illustration: Daniel Chang Christensen.

In Egypt, there are numerous, sprawling deserts. Perhaps Egypt herself is a vast desert, split by a valley made by the river, and chosen by her people as a home since time immemorial. A desert in the west and another in the east. The first marks the borders with Libya, famous for its sea of moving sands. The second overlooks the coast of the Red Sea, and in its far north lies the Sinai Peninsula, which marks the Egyptian border with Palestine.

I have been to the Eastern Desert several times, driving by myself an old white jeep; solid and strong enough to withstand the wild road, to jump over the hills of sand, and to cross the rocky places peacefully. The Eastern Desert represents about a quarter of Egypt’s land, less than half the area of the huge Western Desert, but it is of great importance. It benefits from a rich variety of mines. There are monasteries of wide renown, such as Saint Catherine’s Monastery, and the mountains exceed heights of eight thousand feet, among them the summit of Shair al-Banat. Its nature reserves, like the Wadi El Gamal National Park, are filled with corals and fish and ancient ruins.

My trips in the Eastern Desert, although few and scattered, are still vivid in my memory, not only because of the amazing nature, but also because of the friendships I have with the inhabitants of that place. Women and men with dark skin, who appear in between mountains and valleys, so calm and shining, their faces full of signs like the desert’s wrinkles and hollows, their eyes carrying the purity and transparency of the sky. They constitute an authentic part of the desert, which would not be worth much in their absence.

* * *

I spent long days gathering material I needed to build an article about the Eastern Desert. Acquiring the requisite information was no simple matter, as the writing pertains to top-level political activity. The writing process was taking place in the shadow of a regime whose grip is strengthening, entrenching its foundations, laying out its laws and establishing a new reality in which only one voice is heard and one tune is sung. The writer becomes increasingly bewildered and muddled.

A sort of crude punishment could be imposed upon a writer who criticizes the government’s aggression toward

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da Guernica Magazine

Guernica Magazine18 min letti
Artist in Residence
What I learned—and didn’t—from living with a jazz legend. The post Artist in Residence appeared first on Guernica.
Guernica Magazine7 min lettiTech
Ben Fama: “Life Begins Once Its Valorization Ends.”
The poet talks about his latest book, the economic forces at work behind social media, and the stuffed animals in his life. The post Ben Fama: “Life begins once its valorization ends.” appeared first on Guernica.
Guernica Magazine10 min letti
The Living Days
The wind was rushing past the tower so hard they were sure it would fall. That’s the fate of all towers, after all, to fall. The post The Living Days appeared first on Guernica.