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International media watchdog highlights racist stereotypes of Nubians in Egypt

Nubian Egyptian women sell souvenirs in the village of Gharb Suhail near Aswan in Upper Egypt, some 920 kilometres south of the capital Cairo, on February 5, 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Nubian Egyptian women sell souvenirs in the village of Gharb Suhail near Aswan in Upper Egypt, some 920 kilometres south of the capital Cairo, on February 5, 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Egyptian media incites racism against the country's Nubian communities, an article published by international media watchdog the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) has claimed.

"For decades, Nubians have received an onslaught of racism, cultural marginalisation, and discrimination propagated by the Egyptian media and the entertainment industry," wrote Osama Gaweesh for the MDI.

The article cites multiple incidents of Egyptian officials and elitists racially stereotyping Nubians in the media. For example, a lawyer described by MDI as a "Sisi loyalist" addressed a Nubian in a 2016 TV interview, telling him, "You are a servant and a doorman." This is the sort of stereotype typically propagated in Egyptian media, whereby dark-skinned Egyptians, including Nubians, only work in blue-collar jobs.

The article likens the history and status of Nubians in Egypt to that of Native Americans and aboriginal Australians.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, Nubians have experienced severe neglect and exploitation under the Egyptian government, rights groups have warned, this has reduced them to a dystopian society. Nubians have faced displacement and loss of homes several times due to the construction of the Aswan Dam and the High Dam on the River Nile.

Nubians currently make up three per cent of the Egyptian population. They are indigenous to southern Egypt.

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