Egypt’s Berbers demand inclusion in national dialogue

Egyptian Berber activists want representation in the national dialogue that the Egyptian interim government is holding with political parties and activists.

Amany al-Weshahy, a scholar on Berber affairs, submitted a memorandum asking government to review the problems of the community in Siwa Oasis.

Egypt's Berbers, who mainly live in Siwa and constitute the majority of the population there, have been facing problems with basic services for years, she said.

“We discussed this among us and took a collective decision of following the example of the Nubians to inform the cabinet about our problems," she said.

Khaled Mesallam, a Berber activist and lawyer, said the community needs drainage and sewage networks, a hospital and medical staff. Mesallam also said that some small villages are completely isolated because they have no phones or a central office to operate phone lines for residents' use.

There are an estimated 10 Berber tribes with a total of 25,000 members in Egypt.  

Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa. For more than 20,000 years they have occupied land from the Siwa Oasis in the east to the Canary Islands in the west, including Libya, Tunisia, Algeria Morocco and Mauritania, according to Wasahy.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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