The harrowing story of how celebrating the bright full moon in Sinai ended in a dark cell of routine torture and injustice.
*This story was submitted to us by an individual who will remain anonymous for reasons of his own safety. All contents of the story are in his own words and this is his firsthand account of what he claims happened to him.
This should be interesting. That was my only coherent thought as I rode in the armoured truck, blindfolded, no idea where I was being taken. Life is interesting like that. This truly is turning into one of the most interesting after-parties I’ve been to in a long time… And the longest. Three long, long months. Ok, let’s have some context.
Sinai - I shall keep the exact location anonymous; a spiritual collective of almost twenty-five individuals - the exact nature of which I shall also keep in anonymity - and a misconception, which ultimately led to my incarceration and torture for ninety days. We were healing the land. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? Sitting around, meditating, channelling energy, raising the vibrational level of each other and those around us. Does that not sound quite altruistic and admirable? Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, we didn’t take it very seriously when people started calling us a religious organisation. In fact, we made a huge production of it! The collective started calling me ‘master’ and I started calling them my children. It was all in good fun really. I think it was probably The Dress that pushed the whole thing into the realm of the surreal… Or was it the staff?
The Dress, always capitalised for very good reason, was orange from the back and half red, half yellow from the front, with beautiful rainbow-coloured sequins. I found it one morning after my sunrise swim, on the beach. Flawless, not a single sequin missing! And of course I couldn’t help it; I had to wear it. Then I couldn’t take it off. For months I was wearing that dress. The staff, encrusted with crystals, never left my side of course! Ok, I see how we were asking for what I got, but it was still totally uncalled for. We weren’t harming anyone, so why the three months of torture? O! the humanity!
In any case, let’s get down to brass tacks. The night before my incarceration we were at a full moon Wadi Party - you know the ones; drugs, booze, werewolves - just your typical Sinai Full Moon Party in the mountains. It was amazing; I think that was my only experience of group levitation! What a night! I had an amazing talk with Orion (the constellation) about the nature of the void; Orion maintained that the void was vibrational, I maintained it was geometric. I later discovered that Orion was right, but I digress! You want to hear about the incarceration. I know, I’m getting to it. Have patience, savour the moment. It was an amazing night! As the sun made its presence known I decided to start the hike down the valley to the beach for my customary sunrise swim.
The walk down the valley was uneventful; people passed out right and left, a boulder asked me for a lighter (I didn’t have one) and a tree propositioned me. Not really, but as I said, it was quite a party. As soon as I got to the road, the police were in fact waiting for me specifically! I felt so special, it was beautiful. Truly, there isn’t an experience I’ve had in my life that I’m more grateful for. Not one. “Good morning, we’ve been waiting for you.” And that was the only verbal communication for several hours.
Bodily, I was thrown into the back of a police pick-up truck and kicked in the ribs repeatedly. When we got to the police station I was hauled into a cement room with no windows, no light, no toilet, measuring a meter to a side, where I was left for, I would guess, three hours. Then the real fun started. Into an armoured truck I was thrown, this time with a black bag over my head. This should be interesting! was the only coherent thought I had for the next few hours - and I had it many, many times. Several uncomfortable hours and painful bruises later, I was pulled out of the truck. Where? I hadn’t the foggiest notion. I knew I was still in South Sinai - it hadn’t been more than three or four hours since we started driving.
Out of the truck; black bag still on my head; disoriented (spatially and temporally) - SNAFU as they say. Right away, in way of greeting, apparently, I was water-logged for a period of time I won’t even hazard a wild guess at. Good stuff; clears the mind and brings your attention completely into the present moment, water-logging. As an encore to my aquatic reception, I was introduced to the intricacies of an electrically induced hell.
I was thrown into another 1x1 cement box, but before I was, I was beaten, whipped, and verbally abused for many hours. The next day was an exact repeat: waking up to a beating, followed by water-logging, followed by the same question, "Who is your god?" I answered, "I don’t believe in god!" Apparently, that was also the wrong thing to say because I got the exact same response! Well, I say the same: in nature only. The extent to which they took the practice of humiliation increased exponentially; this time, there was a sexual element. Police batons were used.
This became the accepted and expected daily routine for the next week. That was the easy week. Things spiralled after that. A psychological element was added; footage of my daughter, sleeping, in her grandparents' house, in Cairo. Scary. The sexual aspect of the torture was increased; no more batons, now it was purely biological. I learnt to leave my body. Good stuff. Comes in handy when you’re freezing and starving in the mountains.
Starting the second week, a serenity and a calm descended on me. Before the end of that week the soldiers were talking to me during the night; about their lives, about what I was there for, about religion, about their families - about everything. It was unnerving. By the end of the second week the guards and soldiers were apologising to me when they’d take me out of my box to the torture chamber and the officers. It was surreal. I was moved every two or three weeks, so the whole process was repeated several times during those three months.
I learnt so much about myself during those three months, hence my extreme gratefulness for the whole experience. How to leave my body, how to control my body temperature, how to endear myself to people who would generally deem me a heretic, how to forgive the most grievous acts - that’s just off the top pf my head. It’s amazing how one experience can change your perspective on everything for the rest of your life. Nothing that has happened to me since has even come close to shaking me. Nothing in the world anyway; the mind is a master of self-torture though.
What happens in Egypt when you’re arrested in a governorate other than that in which you legally reside is you’re processed, then sent off to the Central National Deportation Station in the governorate where you’re arrested. From there you’re sent to the CNDS of your home governorate - in Cairo that’s the Khalifa Police Station in El Sayeda Zainab, famous for being the worst police station in all of Egypt. From there you’re sent to the police station where you reside and finally you’re either released or you go to court. My situation was slightly different; there was the torturous detour I spoke of, and I was released from Khalifa... And there’s no official record of the entire episode. Maybe there is somewhere confidential, but I had a friend from National Security check my file and there was nothing about this incident... Very insidious.
The ‘Happy Ending’ is that when I was released from Khalifa, I decided to call my father; which is strange since we hadn’t had a relationship in years at that point. We were happily re-united, since he was in Alex at the time, burying his own father. It’s just like that in my life.