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Egypt’s Nabila Makram: Claims I Support Violence Against Critics ‘A Misrepresentation’

Egypt’s Nabila Makram: Claims I Support Violence Against Critics ‘A Misrepresentation’

Nabila Makram, Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs, is putting the needs of the Egyptian expats in Italy above all. Photo Credit: Everipedia.

Egypt’s Minister of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram responded on Thursday 25 July to recent reports in foreign media and on social media which claimed she threatened dissidents and critics of Egypt with ‘beheadings’ and ‘slicing of throats’.

In a statement released to Egyptian Streets (available in full at the bottom of this article), the Minister said a number of media outlets had ‘not only misrepresented’ her statements ‘but have also misrepresented them to their readers’.

The Minister said however that she could ‘understand how the phrase and gesture I made last be construed as offensive or insensitive’, adding that her ‘intention was not promote violence towards any Egyptian or foreigner’.

Instead, the Minister explained that her use of the phrase ‘n2ata3hom’ (which strictly translates to ‘cut them’ but is commonly used in Egypt to mean ‘to challenge’, ‘to defeat’, ‘to prove wrong’ or similar sentiments in a competitive manner) was intended to show how protective Egyptians, particularly those living abroad, are about the image of their country.

“I used a colloquial Egyptian-Arabic phrase and made a gesture that has since been taken out of context and its intentions misunderstood,” said the Minister in her first official statement in English as seen by Egyptian Streets.

“For many in the audience, and for many Egyptians, the image of their country – particularly in the eyes of foreigners – is highly important. The phrase and gesture I used were implying that many Egyptians living abroad have strong ties to Egypt. As such, they want to protect the reputation of their homeland to the extent that they would openly challenge and want to prove wrong any false assertions made about Egypt,” continued the Minister, adding that her statements were made at an informal meeting with members of the Egyptian community in Canada.

In recent days, a number of foreign media outlets, including prominent British newspapers and media organisations, have been reporting on the Minister’s statements.

Numerous headlines said the Minister threatened critics and dissidents of the government with forms of violence such as beheadings and the slicing of throats.

The media outlets mostly relied on strict translations of the Minister’s statement along with a gesture she made which saw her run a finger near her throat.

Supporters of the Minister have argued that the phrase and gesture are often used colloquially by everyday Egyptians and that foreign media outlets have wrongfully and misleadingly accused the Minister of supporting violence.

Below is the full statement in English by Minister Nabila Makram as made available on 25 July 2019:

“On July 22, I attended an informal meeting with members of the Egyptian community in Canada. The meeting, like many others that I attend during my trips overseas, was an opportunity for me to engage with Egyptians in an open and supportive environment.

During this meeting, I spoke about unity and the importance of Egypt as a common bridge between various Egyptian communities in Canada and across the world. Continuing from this, I spoke about how highly Egyptians living abroad regard their country.

In saying this, and in response to members of the audience, I used a colloquial Egyptian-Arabic phrase and made a gesture that has since been taken out of context and its intentions misunderstood.
For many in the audience, and for many Egyptians, the image of their country – particularly in the eyes of foreigners – is highly important. The phrase and gesture I used were implying that many Egyptians living abroad have strong ties to Egypt. As such, they want to protect the reputation of their homeland to the extent that they would openly challenge and want to prove wrong any false assertions made about Egypt.

With that being said, I can understand how the phrase and gesture I made may be construed as offensive or insensitive. I would like to stress that my intention was not to promote violence towards any Egyptian or foreigner.

In particular, I would like to highlight that my statement was not targeted at any “dissidents”, “opposition” or “critics” as has been reported in certain media outlets. Unfortunately, a number of media outlets have not only misinterpreted my statements but have also misrepresented them to their readers, falsely claiming that I support violence.

I, and the Ministry of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs, recognize the important role Egyptian communities play in the pursuit of the economic, social, cultural and political development of Egypt – development which requires the voice of all Egyptians.

I look forward to continuing my engagement with all Egyptians living abroad.”

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