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The Siwis, Berbers of Egypt
2019

They call themselves Amazighs, "free men". From Morocco to Egypt, the Berbers seek to defend their singularity within the Arab world as the longest-established group in North Africa. In Egypt, the Amazighs are mainly concentrated in the Siwa oasis, the only place where their culture has survived.


The sources of Siwah are used for everything: irrigation of the gardens of the palm grove, public bath, swimming pool... This oasis, near the border with Libya, is the only refuge of the Berber culture in Egypt. This very isolated village was only connected to the nearest town, 300 kilometers away, by a paved road in 1984.
The region is rich in water, which allows them to make a living from their agriculture. For many years, they have remained self-sufficient thanks to their shared knowledge. Under the arid sun, the main activity is working the land, bare hands and bare feet in the irrigated gardens of the palm groves.

The Siwis are imbued with a rigid Islamism that punctuates the life of traditions and strictly separates men and women in particular. Religion marginalizes the latter: they care exclusively for the home and children, do not work in the fields and do not leave the family home very often. Few women are seen walking the streets in which case they are ordered to be fully veiled, including their eyes. It is also forbidden to photograph them. Therefore, they are out of sight.

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