Tag Archives: UNESCO

Can Book Banner Head Cultural Agency?

The controversy over the nomination of Egyptian Cultural Minister Faruq Hosny for position to head the UN cultural and scientific body, UNESCO, was finally resolved when Bulgarian Irina Bokova won a close vote for the job. Hosny has long been the favorite but his candidacy ran into trouble when it was revealed he had opposed placement of books from Israel in libraries in Egypt, hardly the mark of a man devoted to the free access of people to contrasting views. Egyptian officials denounced the Bokova victory as caused by a “clash of civilizations” and blamed “America, Europe, and the Jewish lobby” for ending the Hosny candidacy.

Bokova believes she won partly due to the feeling among many for women equity although she admitted the book banner controversy certainly hurt Hosny’s chances. Frankly, it is ludicrous to blame a “Jewish lobby” for victory in an organization which has repeatedly denounced Israel. Perhaps, if Mr.Hosmy respected the right to pursue knowledge without concern for nation of origin, he might have won the UNESCO post

A Culture Minister Who Burns Books

Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni is being considered for the position of head of UNESCO, an organization that is committed to the principles of freedom of the press and encouraging people to read. Mr. Hosni has been quoted as saying if he found a book in an Egyptian library that was published in Israel it would be burned. He has supported the boycott of all Israeli books, films, and periodicals in Egypt and has done nothing to support intellectuals from both countries engaging in dialogue. However, he did say if Israel invites him to visit their nation, “I will come.” Why? He specifically made clear no Israel films would be allowed to be show in his nation.

Mr. Hosni may well be an excellent person, but as a representative of the intellectual dialogue so necessary among people, he leaves a lot to be desired. How can one be a Minister of “Culture” who wants to burn books?