• 2020 Ramadan television, cut down by Covid-19 and burned by Israel's 'normalization'

Ahmed disgustedly collects frames from Arab televisions. All the cathodic remnants follow a pattern: they are scenes that support racism, with actors whose faces have been painted black , who babble awkwardly in Arabic and behave like savages and misfits. In the latest sequence that has caught his outrage, a black-faced Egyptian actress comes to a consultation. The woman dances in the waiting room and performs in a strange way. "It is totally unacceptable and has nothing to do with comedy," replies this young Sudanese man born and raised in the United Arab Emirates. " There are many examples of racism on Arab television . It was not the first and, honestly, I do not think it is the last," Ahmed murmurs with evident satiety.

Despite the complaints, the chapter - broadcast on an Egyptian channel during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the time of big television bets - remains available to anyone on YouTube along with dozens of similar flashes. Like the supposedly hilarious conversation between two actors with their faces painted black on a Kuwaiti channel or the sketch with a hidden camera on a Libyan private television in which an alleged black actress leaves a car with her children forgotten in an elevator. The unsuspecting who are trapped end up discovering that what is hidden on the four wheels is a pair of monkeys .

"Racism in Arab television has several degrees , " says a paper Mohamed Azmy, founder of the Egyptian Observatory for the Elimination of Racism. "On the screens of countries in North Africa, even being part of the black continent, you can often find jokes, offenses and stereotypes against the black population," says the activist. Discrimination is not only visible in the prejudices on which the characters are built in fiction but also in the absence of faces that show the diversity that inhabits the audience. "In Egypt, for example, for the past two years we have studied the presence of people of color as presenters on public and private channels. Unfortunately, we were not surprised to find out that there is only one , on a private channel. We grew up in one country in which the only requirements to become a presenter is to be white and good-looking ", details this Nubian activist, originally from the southern city of Aswan.

A part of the Arabs still think that there are superior and inferior races

Mohamed Azmy, founder of the Egyptian Observatory for the Elimination of Racism

The wave of racial protests in the United States following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer has brought into focus the precarious situation in the Arab world, where racism - often coupled with ubiquitous classism - is not even worthy of apology . A year ago, the Egyptian actress Shaima Seif raised a dust cloud when she played a Sudanese woman aboard one of the minibuses that travel the busy streets of Cairo. Her character - with, faithful to the clichés, her face blacked out - starred in a string of bizarre scenes: from not keeping silent to forcing her son to urinate in a boat or offering a bottle of vodka to a passenger, a practical haram ( illicit) in Islam.

"Don't be pissed off. It's just a parody. It wasn't malicious," the artist replied, avoiding chanting the mea culpa. Nor did the channel that broadcast the space publicly ask for forgiveness or self-criticism. "The most widespread pattern is to wear a Sudanese accent and try to imitate her physical appearance," admits Ahmed.

" The main concern is the impact that racism on television has in real life . When racism is detected on the screen, you should observe the behavior of the audience in their daily activities. How they receive this information and how it affects them when they treat with black people, "says Mohamed, who considers this epidemic of cathodic hatred as" the main element of racism on the Egyptian streets. "

" All the racist content that is broadcast on television or in the movies is then used as a tool for sarcasm among friends . A resource that, in reality, is a crime," stresses the activist, who practices cautious optimism. "In Tunisia, the parliament passed a law on racial discrimination a few years ago. We sent a bill to the Egyptian parliament for the television industry to comply with the article of the Constitution that prohibits any type of discrimination based on color, race or origin Six months later, the Chamber approved a media law that includes part of the draft. Although it is not entirely satisfactory, it is a small success. "

The hurtful images emitted by Arab channels cast their shadows on a reality in which xenophobia and discrimination reign. In Libya or Algeria, the population in the south of the country has consistently denounced their marginalization . In the former homeland of Muammar Gaddafi, African migrants en route to Europe have been victims of trafficking and brutal torture. In the monarchies of the Arabian peninsula slavery was not abolished until the 1970s and in some areas the word abid (slave) is still used to refer to black people .

The current working conditions and mistreatment suffered by, for example, Ethiopian domestic workers in countries such as Lebanon can often be classified as modern slavery. In Egypt, the Nubian minority has been systematically marginalized and many Egyptians seem obsessed with skin color, considering themselves white . "It is disturbing that some Arabs around us try to make fun of us using the accent they copy from television shows," Ahmed laments. "Many consider that they do nothing wrong, as if one race had been created to entertain the other. A part of the Arabs still think that there are superior and inferior races ", adds who, among his collection of outrages, keeps a memory of childhood. "In Primary I had an Egyptian teacher who used to call me bawab [gatekeeper, in Egyptian Arabic]. Most of the gatekeepers who appeared in Egyptian films were Nubians or of Sudanese origin."

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

Know more

  • Racism
  • George Floyd
  • U.S
  • Egypt
  • Tunisia
  • Libya
  • Algeria
  • immigration
  • Lebanon

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InternationalDeath of George Floyd: Prison prohibits black and Latino guards from dealing with former police officer charged with murder

United StatesA Florida activist who participated in protests against racism is found dead in Florida

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