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Blacks in the diaspora often point to Egypt as proof positive that we come from a lineage of Kings and Queens, but the daily reality for many Black Egyptians is far from royal.

According to a new article by Al Jazeera, Black Egyptians and other immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa face daily incidents of racism and prejudice.

After Mohamed Ahmen Mohamed, a Sudanese immigrant, began receiving threatening calls and emails telling him to leave the country he complained to Egyptian authorities. They refused to help him.

Al Jazeera’s Max Siegelbaum found that Mohamed’s ordeal is quite common for Blacks in Egypt.

He writes:

Black, non-Arab Africans say the case reveals long-standing racism that threatens the security and livelihoods of Egypt’s sizeable sub-Saharan population. While refugees in the country face an overburdened and highly bureaucratic asylum system and aid organisations are underfunded and ill equipped to help them, non-Arab refugees face much more serious problems.

“You can be here 15 years as a recognised refugee and not for a moment of that will you ever be recognised legally or have a home,” said Christopher Eades, director of legal programming at AMERA, a British NGO for refugees.

Aid workers believe sub-Saharan refugees are treated by different informal rules than those of Arab origin – excluded from schools, facing hurdles opening businesses and finding work, and hampered in legal cases.

Black immigrants in Egypt contend the government welcomes immigrants and refugees from other Arab nations, but shuns those from sub-Saharan Africa. Some also argue that aid organizations even treat them differently.

“When there was an influx of African refugees, there was no attention from the NGOs,” said Yagoub Hamdan a Sudanese refugee and community outreach leader at AMERA.

However, when Syrians began pouring into the country in late 2012, the UN set up mobile stations throughout Cairo and the rest of the country, Hamdan pointed out.

“Why did they do that for Syrians when we had the same problem?”

Hamdan and other community organisers say Islamic aid organisations provide ample support to Syrians and Libyans, but rarely to non-Arab Africans.

Christian organizations and smaller Non Government Organizations (NGOs) from outside of the country have pitched in to help, but the problems Black immigrants and Egyptians face persists.

According to Siegelbaum, Black African diplomats and officials also face racism in the country with African officials being told to “keep a distance” from their Egyptian counterparts.

Many argue the cause of racism in Egypt stems from the fact that many Egyptians do not consider themselves to be African at all.

Siegelbaum writes:

This discrimination finds its was onto the street, and black Egyptians say they encounter constant social hurdles.

Nada Zeitoun, a Nubian filmmaker from the upper Egypt city of Aswan, was recently denied service at a pharmacy in central Cairo because the pharmacist said he “didn’t accept money from black hands”.

Zeitoun exposed the incident on social media and eventually the pharmacist was fired, but she says it was just one example of a broader culture of racism.

“Most Egyptians don’t consider themselves African,” she said.

Although Nubians are among the first inhabitants of what is now considered modern Egypt, “[Egyptian people] don’t believe we have a huge provenance of Nubian people.”

Zeitoun adds: “Even [deposed President Mohammed] Morsi thinks we are foreigners.”

With Egypt currently undergoing yet another revolution, many are wondering if the nation will become more welcoming to its Black population.

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  • Truth

    I’m surprised that so many of the comments register as surprised. Arabs on African soil is far from new, they were there long before European colonialism took shape. In fact, the Arab-African slave trade predates the Trans Atlantic slave trade. Unfortunately, this article mirrors other sentiments I’ve heard in other parts of the Middle East.

  • diasporauk

    Sorry but I think we need to unrevise the revisionism going on here.

    chuckles

    Saying that North Africa’s original inhabitants were white, brown, basically anything but black, is as big a lie as saying America’s original inhabits were white.

    Aside

    ((although i suppose you could make that argument since there wars no such thing as America until whites made it, in the “American War of Independence”. So technically speaking the American Republic first inhabitants were indeed white.)

    How did the land mass now called America go from being a racially homogenous society, populated by First Inhabitant “Americans” to being a land predominantly inhabited by whites?

    Invasion, displacement and genocide, followed by waves and waves of white immigration.

    Maybe the “browning” of N Africa happened relatively peacefully, in the same way, for example, that America is now becoming browner simply by the mass immigration of non-whites into the States . . . and racial interbreeding.

    So who can prove that either or both of these things didn’t happen in North Africa?

    Let’s not open the book at the page that suits our agenda. The people occupying N. Africa may be something other than black today, but they’re not N. Africa’s First Inhabitants.

    N. Africa’s First Inhabitants were black Africans.

    If whites and Mediterraneans had the technology to venture further into the African interior we may have far more places where the people are brown and calling themselves anything but African.

    How do we know that?

    Well they’re all over Africa today — no?

    Take a look at a world map, you’ll see how close North Africa is to the Med, the M. East and Europe, and how distant those places are from the Western, Central and Southernmost parts of Africa, where the people homogenously black.

    Whites and Mediterraneans would have been eaten alive by jungle and tropical weather if they tried to come in that deep chattin bout empire in Africa True. LOL!

    Is it a coincidence that where you have a cross road of continents, you also have the most racially diverse populations?

    Also, if so called N. Africans don’t see themselves as African, isn’t there a clue in that?

    If that’s the case they need to get the f*ck out of Africa and go back to whatever concrete wasteland they come from. Whatever the case, they clearly they know their own roots better than YOU know their roots. LOL!

    Shut up

    people chat the most shit.

    addendum

    This is not an argument to support a black Ancient Egyptian empire, I’m no lover of empires, or so called royalty — be it black or otherwise.