Egyptian diplomat reportedly calls Sub-Saharan African ministers ‘dogs and slaves’ at UN conference

An Egyptian diplomat allegedly referred to Sub-Saharan African ministers as “dogs and slaves” at a United Nations conference on the environment in Nairobi, according to a Kenyan ambassador.

Yvonne Khamaty, Kenyan ambassador and head of the African Diplomatic Corps’ (ADC) technical committee, told Mada Masr that a member of the Egyptian delegation, who she identified as a deputy assistant in the Foreign Ministry, Hesham Showair, made these comments at the United Nations Environmental Association (UNEA) conference.

In a memo documenting the incident, Khamaty said the diplomat made the remarks in side comments to other delegates in Arabic during a disagreement.

“It is true. I believe it is his individual view of the continent. He must however apologize to Africa,” Khamaty wrote on Twitter.

Kenyan journalist James Smart also reported the incident on Twitter, and the comments and memo by Khamaty were widely reported on in the Kenyan press.

A video of the final session of the UNEA conference shows footage of the Egyptian diplomat objecting to a vote on a resolution on Gaza. It also shows him making off-microphone comments to his fellow delegates, but they cannot be heard clearly in the clip.

There was initially some confusion over who made the comments, with some sources claiming it was the head of AMCEN, Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy, who later clarified to the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper that he didn’t participate in the conference.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement denying that an Egyptian representative would make such comments and asserting there would be an investigation into the incident.

The statement explained that as soon as Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was aware of the memorandum he ordered an inquiry, emphasizing the ministry’s objection to any generalizations about Egypt and its position towards the African continent based on alleged remarks, and reaffirming that Egypt strongly affiliates itself with Africa.

Khamaty called for the delegate’s immediate resignation, condemning the statements as “uncivilized, undiplomatic, degrading and insulting of the fabric of Pan-Africanism,” in a way that “undermines the vision of the 2063 African Agenda and the Pan-Africanism that was advocated by the founding fathers of the African Union.”

Many Egyptians apologized to Khamaty on Twitter for the diplomat’s comments. One user stated, “Please accept our apologies. Perhaps he doesn’t know that all #Africa are our brothers.”


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