Egyptian Minorities: Bedouins

Figure 1.--Dahab is a tourist resort situated on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Formerly it was a Bedouin fishing village. A French family lived integrated in the local community during 1975. In the photo their children are playing with the Bedouin mates. A reader writes, "I remember in 1978, the Egyptians made a fuss over my youngest daughter's blond hair, and liked to touch it. Maybe good luck??? I wonder if the French children in thev picture had similar experiences." Sadly, such unteractions are no longer possible. Rising Ilamic fundamentalism and and the inreasing turn to violence against Christians and Europeans has made the Sianai a very dangerous place.

Bedouins are a general term for the nomadic people of North Africa. Ethnicity varies deoending on their location. Almost all of Egyptians live in the Nile valley. Egyptian Bedouins have traditionally inhabit the desert regions, including the Sinai and the Eastern and Western Deserts. Ethnically the northern regions are largely Arab. The southern section of the Eastern Desert ise\thically destinct. Many seem to be related to predynastic Egyptians. The Bedouins are nomadic because they are constantly search for fresh grazing areas for their heards of camels and goats as well as water. Over time the Bedouins leaerned of the best grazing aereas ahnd how they changed seasonally. Thus their wondering became regularized. They return each year to many of the same locations with grazing ares and water. The Bedouins have found when and where to find what he needs. He can tell by the vegetation about rain. He can track from maerks in the desert sands. The desert is in many ways like the oceans. And Bedouins like sailors navigate by the stars. They also recognize and leave stone markers. After independence, the Egyptian Government required Bedouin men to do military service. They of course returned to their sesert communities very much changed. Some Bedouins continue to exist in a traditional life style that dates back milenia and are very little changeds. Many Bedouins have settled down and begun to integrate in the larger Egyptian society. Many can today be found in the resort communities of the Sinai and now the larger cities of Egypt, especially Cairo. A recent issue has become politization. Bediouns have been involved in both ttacks in Israel as well as since the Army ousted the Muslim Brotherhood (2013), attacks on Governemnt forces in the Siani.


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Created: 5:57 PM 3/10/2015
Last updated: 5:57 PM 3/10/2015