CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Culture Abdel Wahed el-Nabawy is under fire for poking fun at a museum curator’s body, telling her she was fat and should lose weight when she brought up concerns faced by employees of the museum.
Curator Azza Abdel Moneim told The Cairo Post Wednesday she would send a complaint to the Cabinet against the minister’s “insult” after he did not fulfill his promise to officially apologize to her on her Facebook page.
Minister El-Nabawy made a surprise visit to the Mahmoud Saeed Museum in Alexandria, when Abdel Moneim mentioned to him some of the problems facing the museum employees.
But the minister retorted, “For me, I have a problem with fat employees,” Abdel Moneim wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
The minister then turned to the museum director and told her “make [Abdel Moneim] go up and down the stairs 20 times everyday to lose weight.”
He again addressed the director saying “[Abdel Moneim] might have been eating inside the office when it was closed.”
The minister’s remarks at Abdel Moneim were accompanied with laughter from “him, the director, the employees and the minister’s security guards,” said Abdel Moneim in her post.
She responded to the minister “I did not know that the physical shape was part of the job conditions, no one told me so although I have been working here for seven years.”
One of the demands Abdel Moneim discussed with the minister was a delayed salary adjustment after she received a master’s degree, but she said she was astonished when the minister belittled the amount of money that is estimated at additional 80 EGP ($10.)
And at the end of the visit, the minister did not forget to call her name again and told her “take a round in the garden to lose weight as we agreed.” She added “I found myself telling him out loud, ‘No I am happy with myself and I will not lose weight; I hope you are happy as well.’”
She said she received a phone call from the minister where he clarified his remarks as was for “cheering up” the atmosphere after he came in a surprise visit.
Abdel Moneim’s Facebook post has attracted over 12,000 likes, as well as gained huge support by social media users who condemned the minister’s attitude, while some called for his resignation.
She said she will not waive her right after she was treated “in a discriminatory manner” from the Minister of Culture for her weight.
The New Woman Foundation condemned the offense incident as a “blatant form of violence against women at work and the underestimation to the role of women,” in a Sunday statement.
The foundation also announced solidarity with Abdel Moneim’s legal demands for her rights at work, as well as called for policies to ensure gender equality principles at work premises.