“El Khatt Dah Khatty” is a ballad penned by the late Egyptian “poet of the people” Ahmed Fouad Negm. An unwavering political dissident who spent much of his adult life in and out of prison, Negm’s irreverent poetry delivered scathing critiques of every Egyptian president and Arab regime and reflected the hardships suffered by ordinary people at the hands of the powerful. Though much of his work focused on a distinctly Egyptian context and experience, this particular poem was about Palestine.
The poem was written in 1970, when Negm was serving one of many prison sentences and heard about the events of Black September – in which the Jordanian military expelled the PLO from Jordan – on a transistor radio smuggled to him by prison guards. He funneled his anger, frustration, and sadness into this poem, which reads as follows:
The words, originally sung by Negm’s creative partner, composer, and singer Sheikh Imam.
الخط ده خطّي والكلمة دي ليه