Wednesday, November 18, 2009

There’s a Nubian in the Fuel Supply

When various cartoons and photoshop images depicting Barack Obama as a monkey appeared in the media and on the internet, consternation and outrage were aroused among the bien-pensants of the chattering classes.

Insulting Mr. Obama in this fashion was not an Islamophobia issue (at least we hope it wasn’t). But what would happen if one Muslim happened to call another (somewhat browner) Muslim a monkey?

This isn’t a hypothetical question, because a well-upholstered Lebanese songstress has just put her foot in it big time by referring to Nubians as monkeys.

Nubians, as you may know, are black Egyptians, and lighter-skinned Egyptians have been known to refer to the Nubians as simians. But Ms. Wehbe used the phrase in a song lyric, and that simply won’t do.

It’s worth remembering that Arabs have a somewhat less than respectful attitude towards African blacks. In fact, the Arabic word for African is aswad, which not only means “black”, but also “slave”.

In other words, if they were Europeans or Americans, Arabs would officially be WAYCISTS!

But since they’re “brown”, that isn’t possible. Not only that, Nubians are Muslims, so this can’t possibly be an Islamophobia issue.

Here’s the story from the Grauniad:

Nubian Fury at ‘Monkey’ Lyric of Arab Pop Star Haifa Wehbe

Haifa WehbeOne of the Arab world’s biggest pop stars has provoked a torrent of outrage after releasing a song which refers to black Egyptians as monkeys.

Haifa Wehbe, an award-winning Lebanese diva who has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful people, is now facing a lawsuit from Egyptian Nubians claiming the song has fuelled discrimination against them and made some Nubian children too afraid to attend school.

The row has cast fresh light on the position within Egyptian society of Nubians, who are descended from one of Africa’s most ancient black civilisations and yet often face marginalisation in modern Egypt.
- - - - - - - - -
Wehbe, a 35-year-old model turned actress and singer, is widely regarded as the Middle East’s most prominent sex symbol and has been no stranger to controversy in the past. Her skimpy outfits and provocative lyrics (one previous hit was entitled Hey, Good Little Muslim Boy) have earned her the wrath of religious conservatives and forays into the political arena have also sparked debate, including her very public praise for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanon.

The latest accusations of racism came after the release of her new song, Where is Daddy?, in which a child sings to Wehbe, “Where is my teddy bear and the Nubian monkey?”.

Wehbe has since apologised profusely for the offending lyrics, insisting they were penned by an Egyptian songwriter who told her that “Nubian monkey” was an innocent term for a popular children’s game. That hasn’t stopped a group of Nubian lawyers submitting an official complaint to Egypt’s public prosecutor and calling for the song to be banned.

“Everyone is upset,” said Sayed Maharous, 49, the Nubian owner of a coffee shop in Cairo. Adul Raouf Mohammed, who runs a nearby store, agreed. “To compare a human being to an animal is insulting in any culture. She has denigrated an entire community of people, and now some of our children are afraid to go into school because they know they will be called monkeys in the playground.”

The row over Wehbe’s song has highlighted a growing sense of communal identity among Nubians in Egypt, a country where the government has traditionally promoted a very monolithic brand of nationalism, sometimes to the exclusion of religious or ethnic minorities.

Despite breaking through into the cultural mainstream — several Nubian novelists are well-regarded within Egyptian intellectual circles and Nubian singers such as Mohammed Mounir are among the most popular in the country — Egypt’s estimated two million Nubians remain largely invisible on television and film, except as lampooned stereotypes.


Hat tip: C. Cantoni.

10 comments:

Engineer-Poet said...

"She has denigrated an entire community of people..."

No, I think that was a fait accompli before she ever saw a microphone.

Exquistely Ellen said...

Lady Gaga leaves me afraid to turn on the radio, but do I cause a stir?
Perhaps this women was an innocent victim of stupidity and had not idea what she was singing. Either way, if a song is evoking such stronge repulsions, why does it seem so universally liked?

urbanadder22 said...

And our aswads are falling all over themselves in our prisons to join what-they-think-is-the-all-races-are-equal-religion-of-choice: Islam.

Arab moslems, who are at the peak of the Islamic pyramid, will use these "raisins" for jihad, but they will never accept them as equals.

laine said...

The seldom admitted dirty secret of brown and black cultures...they prefer the lightest skinned straight-haired among their own kind, consider them the most beautiful/handsome and give them social rewards (while penalizing the darkest), all of which they would call racism if a white admitted to the same preference.

Whites are stupid for accepting an enforced standard of behavior that the enforcers don't bother following themselves. Non-whites need to be called on their odiferous hypocrisy. They are no one to be preaching on racism to whites who are presently the LEAST racist people on the planet as proven by multicultural multiracial immigration policies that are not accepted in a single country with black or brown culture.

mace said...

Laine,

I agree,I challenged some Indians on their requirement for light skinned marriage partners,the reply was that this was just "personal preference" and certainly not racist,only people of European descent are racist.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

I've had Indians claiming this preference for fair skin comes from colonial times and was imposed by the British. They weren't interested when I tried to explain that it pre-dated any interactions with contemporary European explorers, or even Alexander the Great. They wanted to see it was caused by western racism so that's all they saw.

mace said...

Archonix,

That's not all the British are blamed for,according to some Indians,at least,the invasion of NW India by Indo European speakers in the Bronze Age is a racist myth created by the British(who else?)Why? Even scientists in India hedge around the issue,they describe two dinstinct genetic groups "Ancestral South Indian" and "Ancestral North Indian" (who are related to Europeans).Eh? There's also the linguistic evidence for invasion.
Then there's that abomination known as the Hindu "caste system".
I'd say if there's ever a gold medal awarded for hypocrisy on racial prejudice,Indians would be front runners.

S said...

Didn't Mohammad say women should not sing? Something about songstresses? I'm surprised she is even allowed to make herself public.

Afonso Henriques said...

Why do you people say Indians are hypocrital? At least, I think that of all the "brown" (or whatever you want to call them) peoples on earth, Indians are the ones who somewhat fit better into an European society.
Probabily even better than the Jews, I don't know. Yes, there are some stupid Indians but I've seen many more stupid Europeans than...

Well, I'm just argueing that non muslim Indians usually do not behave like other ethnic minorities. And, to my personal taste, I prefer Indians to other good immigrants like Chinese or Japanese people. I don't know why... I think the East Asians are too different and that Indians are more "European" deep inside, even im mentality things.

But again, I'm from a country with old relations with India. Even yesterday I was talking with a man who participated in the brief war of 1956 against India, when the Indian Union army took by force our three remaining Indian colonies. They were so many more than us... but they got more losses than our side. The important is that we still get a long.

Also, the Christian Lebanese reveled to be good immigrants too, integrating rapidly in the societies they entered. I mean Christian Lebanese and not Christian Arab, don't ask me why.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Why do you people say Indians are hypocrital?

All indians? No. But the people who call us racist and practice racism themselves whist denying they do so are hypocrites. This sort of "racial" preference for lighter skin is quite common in India but they deny it's a racial preference, or deny that it goes on, or claim that the racist whites imposed it on them. That's the hypocrisy.