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Africa and Aboriginal Tuesdays: Racist Attack On Sudanese Refugees - Birmingham Visits Cairo by Akbar Muhammad

Last week in Cairo, Egypt between one to two thousand Sudanese refugees camped out in protest against the United Nations High Commission for Refugees at an area in Cairo called Mohandessin. Mohandessin is an upper middle class area of Cairo, Egypt. According to press reports, the refugees had been there for a little over three weeks. Many of the reports that I read from both American and international press stated that the refugees were trying to convince the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to send them to a third country. Many of them had traveled to Egypt as refugees because of the long bitter war in The Sudan, which has recently ended in a peace accord. Many of the refugees who were from the south still felt that The Sudan was not safe enough to return home with their families.

One of the main reasons that they wanted to leave Cairo is what one press report described as their mistreatment in Egypt which was terminology used to cover up the blatant racism that exist in many quarters in Cairo, Egypt against Black Sudanese and Black people from other parts of Africa and the world. The very fact that this attack with water hoses and sticks took place between 9 pm and 3 a.m. in the morning shows that there was a sinister plan afoot. The tragedy of 25 people losing their life in the heart of Cairo at the hands of some security police who were no doubt instructed by their superiors to do whatever they felt necessary to move these Black people is reminiscent of Birmingham, Alabama. When during the civil rights struggle, Black people were protesting against the mistreatment that was taking place in the south. Birmingham Police used water canons, dogs and nightsticks to attack men, women, children and elders in a very vicious manner.

This naked racism demonstrated by the police in Cairo is a tragedy for Egypt, The Sudan and the budding African Union. According to one newspaper, a Sudanese official took the side of the Egyptians. If this is true, then the government of The Sudan needs to condemn him and issue an official apology to those who lost loved ones in this tragedy and suffered this kind of humiliation that the world witnessed. The tragedy took place before The Sudan was to celebrate their 50th anniversary of independence, (January 1, 1956) and before The Sudan is to host a meeting of the African Union in Khartoum.

Egypt is having itís own difficulty with the so-called democratic reforms being pushed by America and the west. Her persecution of political Egyptian leaders is testing whether Egypt can truly be democratic in a manner that is pleasing to the west. We have read recently about Egypt jailing leaders who are challenging President Hosni Mubarak. This attack on these innocent refugees is another blow against the leadership of President Hosni Mubarak. The blame game is now going around, but the buck must stop at Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan and President Hosni Mubarak.

What should take place is that international teams should first go the camps where they have taken the Sudanese to check their physical condition and get a full report on what took place. They should treat the injured and have the UN High Commission to resettle them as quickly as possible in a third country. A report should be done on the treatment of Black refugees who reside in Egypt that are from The Sudan and other countries.

Perhaps Mubarak should commission a fact-finding committee on racism in Egypt. The way that Africans on the continent and those in the Diaspora can show their displeasure and anger at this treatment is to send letters of protest to Egyptian embassies around the world and where necessary demonstrate in front of the Egyptian embassies and demand that these family be compensated. The Egyptian society understands what blood money is in Arab and Islamic culture.

From North America, thousands of Black Americans go to Egypt each year to tour Cairo and Upper Egypt (Aswan and Luxor). I strongly suggest that all of these tour groups reconsider traveling to Egypt until the proper apologies and reparations are paid to these Sudanese refugees. As the world witnessed what happened through the media, the apology should not be low level, but should come from the very top. We cannot say to the world, that we want an African Union leading to a United States of Africa with this kind of obvious racist mentality existing in one of the most powerful African countries on the continent, the country of Egypt. If there was any sensitivity, concern and love for their fellow Africans who were in the park with their families, then there is no way in the world that they would spray them with water hoses and beat them with sticks. We must not let this die as a news item. The world is waiting to hear from President Mubarak and Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

For further comments or questions, please contact Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of the Nation of Islam and Minister Louis Farrakhan at

Akbar Muhammad

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

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