The UK's Guardian newspaper quoted Adul Raouf Mohammed, a Nubian store manager, as saying the song's reference was "insulting in any culture".

"She has denigrated an entire community of people, and now some of our children are afraid to go into school because they know they will be called monkeys in the playground," the paper quoted him as saying.

Courting controversy

The row unusually brings into focus the position of the Nubians in Egyptian society.

The ethnic group, which makes up an estimated population of about two million in Egypt, is descended from one of Africa's ancient black civilisations but is often sidelined in modern Egypt.

Wehbe, conversely, has often been the focus of media attention.

Seen as one of the Middle East's leading sex symbols, the actress and singer has often earned the ire of the region's conservative religious leaders.

Her often-revealing clothes and a previous hit "Ya Ibn El Halal", translated roughly as "Hey, Good Little Muslim Boy", have provoked outrage in the past.

In 2006, the mainstream Western media also noted that she publicly supported Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader.

Wehbe's brother was killed fighting Israel during its 1980s incursion into Lebanon.