Monday, June 15, 2009

Competition for UNESCO heats up

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, Egypt's candidate for the post of UNESCO's director- general, was in the spotlight last week as his campaign for the post came under scrutiny in foreign and Egyptian newspapers. Days ahead of the closing of UNESCO leadership nominations a group of well known French and German intellectuals raised objections to his candidacy, pointing to a comment he made last year in parliament. When asked by an MP about the presence of Israeli books in Egyptian libraries, Hosni responded by saying that he would burn such books if any were found.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, director of Holocaust documentary Claude Lanzmann and writer Bernard Henri-Levy used the French newspaper Le Monde to call on the international community to block Hosni's candidacy. They described him as a racist and inciter of hate.

Olaf Zimmermann, chief executive of the German Council of Culture, also announced his concern over Hosni's candidacy. He was quoted in the Times online as saying that "someone who failed to respect the diversity of the world's cultures should not be allowed to turn global cultural and education policy".

Hosni responded in Le Monde with an apology, saying he regretted his comments, which were uttered in the heat of the moment.

See the above page for the full story.

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