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Egyptian culture minister allegedly has ‘problem with fat employees’

“I have a problem with fat employees,” the minister told an employee at the Mahmoud Saeed Museum

Published: Updated:

Alleged remarks made by the Egyptian culture minister to a female employee over her weight sparked outrage among Egyptians and prompted a women’s rights organization to condemn his comments.

Egyptian Culture Minister Abdel Wahed al-Nabawy reportedly made the remarks during a visit earlier this week to an Alexandria-based museum.

“I have a problem with fat employees,” he purportedly told Azza Abdel Moneim, an employee at the Mahmoud Saeed Museum.

Abdel Moneim, who reportedly holds a Master’s degree in sculpture, wrote on her Facebook page that the minister made fun of her weight in response to a request she made related to her job.

The employee said the minister asked if the employees face problems at their workplace. Abdel Moneim replied saying she faces an issue regarding her salary as per the law, the Daily News Egypt reported.

The minister reportedly responded with remarks related to her weight.

“Let her go up and down the stairs twenty times a day to lose weight,” al-Nabawy reportedly told the museum’s director, who Abdel Moneim said joined him in joking.

“I’m offended, broken and deeply hurt from his words,” the employee said according to the newspaper. “This is the meaning of pure sexism. I was judged upon my appearance.”

When his tour was over, al-Nabawy allegedly told Abdel Moneim loudly to “keep [walking] rounds in the garden as we agreed.”

“I won’t lose any weight,” the employee said she replied. “I love myself the way I look.”

The incident raised concern among rights and women groups in Egypt.

The New Woman Foundation said in a statement carried by Egypt Independent newspaper: “The insult and ridicule Azza was subjected to was clearly verbal harassment that should not escape accountability.”

Egypt Independent reported that al-Nabawy said his remarks were intended to be humorous.

Also, Abdel Moneim said she received a call from the minister, who told her that what he said was meant to be a joke.

“He told me it was a joke, he was only trying to ease the stress in the air with no hard feelings,” said Abdel Moneim, as quoted by the Daily News Egypt.

The minister reportedly promised her a public apology on her Facebook account but that has not happened so far, she added.