“Nationalism and Kemet” is it a summons to civilization or a name for modern racist campaigns towards refugees in Egypt?

Photo: The Pharaohs' Golden Parade - Mahmoud Khaled/AFP via Getty Images ©
Photo: The Pharaohs' Golden Parade - Mahmoud Khaled/AFP via Getty Images ©

After announcing the launch of the “Returning to the Source Conference”, which was known on social media as the “Aswan Conference”, a campaign was launched on social media in recent days calling for cancelling the conference under the hashtag (#Stop_Aswan_Conference), which topped Twitter for several days. The content published from the accounts that lead this campaign included an incendiary hate speech against refugees and calling for their expulsion from Egypt under the pretext of “preserving the Egyptian race.”

We were curious to follow these accounts and the campaigns that they launch from time to time against people of colour and refugees of various nationalities and ethnicities residing in Egypt, and with the follow-up of the research, we noticed that many of these accounts often comments on the pages of the “Refugee Platform in Egypt” and the pages of organisations that support refugees on social media in a systematic and continuous manner, their comments carry hate and racist discourse. We try as much as possible to hide/delete such comments due to our strong rejection of the harm and incitement they bear against those we work to defend their rights, including refugees and migrants in Egypt. Their comments are such as “Expel refugees outside the country”, “Egypt does not want them at all.” They are…..”, “Egypt is not a camp”.

With the attempt to link these accounts with the recent “trend”, we found that there are two groups that promote and spread this racist discourse.

The first group calls themselves the “Sons of Kemet”: who believe in the purity of the Egyptian race and attribute themselves to the builders of the pyramids and the ancient Egyptian civilization is similar to the purity of the Aryan race. They call for the expulsion of all those who do not carry these genes, according to their claim, and they call refugees or those who do not belong to them the term “Hyksos.”. Among the recent writings of this discourse is a book called “The Egyptian Nakba, the Settlement of the Hyksos”. Promoters of this discourse also deny their Arab, African or Islamic affiliation, but it is only related to BC, and perhaps Zahi Hawass‘s perspective on the Egyptians is a summary of what this group is known for.

The second group calls itself “Egyptian Nationalism,” but it is not the nationalism that we are used to. This new nationalism rejects the other that does not resemble it and is similar to white supremacy and closer to the extreme right in the west in its discourse, as the two groups (Sons of Kemet and the new nationalists) agree on a lot in their discourse, especially with regard to rejecting the presence of refugees and the necessity of deporting them to their homeland. They also say that the United Nations agreements to protect refugees are a “conspiracy”.

The “Returning to the Source Conference” was scheduled to be held in Aswan on the twenty-fifth of February, and the conference was organised by a movement called “Afrocentric”, a global movement that emerged in the twenties of the last century, centred within the United States and sub-Saharan Africa, intolerant of the black race and claims the return of the origin of all civilizations goes back to them. Afrocentric describe the current Egyptians as occupiers and claim that the Egyptian civilization goes back to their race and is not the property of the Egyptians and that the ancient Egyptians either died or migrated to the south.

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