Prime Minister Hesham Qandil held a meeting with a delegation of Nubians to discuss issues facing their community. On Saturday Qandil announced a package of development deals for the Upper Egyptian community. However, many prominent Nubians were not aware the meeting even took place.
The meeting outlined plans and devoted funding for housing units, land acreage, and assistance for agriculture cooperatives in the Nubian community.
In conversations with Nubian activist Fatma Emam, the chairman of the Egyptian Nubian Association for Lawyers, Mounir Bashir, and Nubian member of the Constituent Assembly, Manal El-Tibi, all said they had heard nothing about such a meeting.
This is typical according to Nubian lawyer head Mounir Bashir, “this is the same as what was done during the Mubarak regime. The government meets with a few people and comes up with rash decisions.”
Bashir said that it is important to remember that there are also Nubian “remnants” and these members of the old guard used to serve as token Nubian representatives that made decisions without a legitimate mandate to speak on behalf of the minority.
Bashir also pointed out that this was a strange time for such a meeting. “They are holding this meeting while the country is on fire,” said Bashir, “if this was not the case we would have gone to protest such a meeting.”
Nubians have long been taking part in the recent anti-government protests. In October Nubians protested outside Abdeen Palace demanding the return of Nubian lands and then took part in an Aswan governorate sit-in that attempted to oust Governor Mostafa Al-Sayed.
There is also Nubian dissatisfaction with the current draft of the constitution up for referendum. Manal El-Tibi quit the Constituent Assembly in protest in September with a letter that read, “the new constitution and system do not carry any sign of fairness, with all of its impoverished segments of society, including my generous family in Al-Nuba, who honoured me by nominating me for assembly membership.”
Nubian activist Fatma Emam said the vocabulary of the constitution makes her feel like a partial citizen because she is not of Arab ethnicity.
The Egyptian Nubian Association for Lawyers has drafted two laws that Bashir said would be much more productive for the achievement of Nubian rights than the high minded pledges the government continues to make.
“One law would guarantee the Nubian right of return to their lands, the other would be the creation of a High Committee for Development.” This committee would guarantee that government pledges were carried out in the interest of the Nubian community.
The state information service said a team of ministers will travel to Aswan to discuss issues with Nubians in that community. It also stated that Saturday’s meeting was attended by the ministers of finance, housing, agriculture, and media.