Egypt arrests 14 for racism against top Zamalek footballer

Egypt arrests 14 for racism against top Zamalek footballer, Shikabala
2 min read
30 November, 2020
In one of the incidents, a video that surfaced on Facebook showed a group of four men chanting 'Shikabala, Shikabala' while pointing at a black dog.
Shikabala was the target of the racism [Getty]
At least 14 people have been arrested in Egypt for racist abuse targeting a top Zamalek football player, one of Cairo's two leading clubs.

The perpetrators, from two separate incidents, published material deemed to be offensive against Mohamed Abdel Razek, also known as "Shikabala", after Zamalek's defeat to arch-rivals Al-Ahly.

In one of the incidents, a video that surfaced on Facebook showed a group of four chanting "Shikabala, Shikabala" while pointing at a black dog wearing the number 10 Zamalek football shirt.

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At least 11 others were also detained for another offensive video, Egyptian security forces said, noting they quickly identified and arrested those in question.

The targeted attack triggered outrage on social media with users denouncing racism.

In a video seemingly published in response, Egypt's top religious authority, Dar Al-Iftaa explained bullying, racism and mockery of others is prohibited in Islam.

'Fixation on skin tone'

Egypt has been bold in its political and economic push towards countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but that has not prevented racist outbursts by its diplomats.

An Egyptian official was in 2016 accused of calling African diplomats "dogs and slaves" at a United Nations conference in Kenya.

Mona Kareem, a research fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, explained such slurs are rooted in the idea of "blackness as something to fear or ridicule".

"A fixation on skin tone is only an expression of... racial bias, and does not capture the complexity of the racial experiences that blacks have had in the Arab world," she told AFP.

"Many of these representations (on television) give voice to already-existent racial images and myths," Kareem added.

Several human rights groups have criticised pervasive racism and obstacles to local integration for non-Egyptians of African descent in the country, as well as in other Arab nations such as Lebanon.

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