Egypt’s foreign ministry is opening an investigation into claims that an Egyptian diplomat referred to Sub-Saharan Africans as “dogs and slaves” during a United Nations event, Egyptian media reported Tuesday.
Kenyan diplomat Yvonne Khamati accused the unnamed Egyptian diplomat of making the comments last week during a United Nations Environment Assembly meeting held in Nairobi.
On Sunday Khamati wrote a memo to the dean of her diplomatic corps demanding that Egypt no longer represent Africa in any official capacity due to the remarks. The memo was leaked to the Kenyan press, leading to a national uproar.
Khamati says the degrading remarks were made during a conversation between Egyptian and other African delegations over a failed resolution to determine the environmental impact on Gaza of the 2014 summer war between Israel and Hamas. Egypt had reportedly endorsed the resolution.
He spoke to his delegation in Arabic in the presence of African delegates. That speak:understand Arabic
— AMB Yvonne Khamati (@YvonneKhamati) May 30, 2016
While Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry ordered an investigation into the incident, his ministry at the same time released a statement “completely” denying the comments had even been made, the Egyptian news site al-Ahram reported.
The ministry’s statement also accused Khamati of overstepping her authority by trying to ban Egypt from representing Africa.
“It is entirely unacceptable to generalize and present weak accusations against the Egyptian state and people that cast doubt on their belonging to Africa and on Egypt’s ability to represent African interests,” the statement read.
Though the Egyptian government seemed unapologetic, citizens of the most populous Arabic country took to Twitter to express their outrage over the comment.
Using the hashtag #WeAreSorryAfrica, regular Egyptians apologized for their official’s alleged statement.
— Amro Ali (@_amroali) May 31, 2016
I hereby declare that the Egyptian minister that made those racist comments does not represent me #wearesorryafrica
— Ahmed Adel (@click_mobinil) May 31, 2016
— Yehia El Gammal (@YehiaMelGammal) May 31, 2016