In the post, which was well-written and heart-felt, Mona makes these points:
- While on a Cairo underground train (subway) Mona witnesses a young Egyptian taunting a Sudanese (black) girl racially. Mona intervened, but the Egyptian girl's mum sided with her daughter's racist behaviour. Many passengers sat silently and watched. Later, the Sudanese girl told Mona: “Egyptians are bad”; Mona felt the girl must have been abused publicly before.
- Mona states that: "We are a racist people in Egypt and we are in deep denial about it."
- She cites an incident in 2005 in which Egyptian police stormed a make-shift camp housing Sudanese refugees and, in the process, killed 28 of them.
- She cites the killing of a total of 33 Sudanese migrants from the war-torn Darfur region at the Egyptian-Israeli border in 2007.
- She generalises this racism from Egypt to the rest of the Arab world, citing the Arab world's silence on Darfur (in Sudan).
- She says Muslims (an even bigger generalisation than Egypt and the Arab world) have double standards: we cry "Islamophobia" but "never stop to consider how we treat minorities and the most vulnerable among us."
- The television network ABC staged an experiment in which an actor worked in a bakery and refused to serve an actress dressed as a Muslim woman in a headscarf. Mona was deeply affected by this programme, and she wonders whether an Arab television channel would dare to stage a programme that boldly looks at our own racism.
I was immediately drawn to this topic. It is a sensitive topic that I think of regulary, particularly in light of my residence in a country in which my religion and ethnicity are in the minority. In fact, it is a sensitive topic that most human beings grapple with; otherwise, why would we call Obama's election "historic"? This is a touchy topic; as evidenced by the many comments that Mona's blog post received. Some of the comments were personal; one commenter gave highly-specific aggravations that he claimed to be representative of what southern-Sudanese citizens suffer in Egypt.
So, beginning with this post and a couple more on the way, I want to explore the racism that Mona accused Egyptians of denying. Is it real, does it exist, is it widespread? I want to explore if we human beings can put an end to racism? Also, I want to explore the question of: are Egyptians respectful towards _each other_? Forget other nationalities and other races, are we respectful to each other?
This is a topic that _could_ have ramifications. Someone in the State Department in the US, having read Mona's article in the IHT, can easily insist on dedicating a portion of US aid to anti-racism campaigns.
So, watch this space for more posts.