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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Bringing attention to an unpleasant fact can make you unpopular. In this case, the unpleasant fact is discrimination faced daily by Egyptian Nubians, as we discover by reading a story from The Guardian published on the website of The Sydney Morning Herald.

Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe has included racist lyrics in a song, Where Is Daddy?, we are told by the Egyptian Nubian Association for Law, which has brought an action against the release.

Where is my teddy bear and the Nubian monkey?

Her dismay and a denial "has not stopped a group of Nubian lawyers submitting an official complaint to Egypt's public prosecutor and calling for the song to be banned".

She says that 'Nubian monkey' is the name of a children's game in Lebanon.

People on the street claim that the song has meant their children are fearful of attending school as they will be called "monkeys".

But the problem does not lie with the attractive singer. According to Jack Shenker, who wrote the story, Nubians are not portrayed positively in popular culture. They "remain largely invisible on television and film, except as lampooned stereotypes".

Egypt's government, he says, "has traditionally promoted a monolithic brand of nationalism, sometimes to the exclusion of religious or ethnic minorities".

So a beautiful singer from a foreign country (where 'Nubian monkey' is the name of a children's game, she says) is attacked by minority rights activitsts because the minority they represent is routinely denigrated in their country of birth.

They are throwing rocks at a mirage, ignoring the atmosphere that is its real cause.

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