ADL Issues Open Letter To UNESCO; Urges Members To Reject Candidacy Of Farouk Hosni
Update (September 22, 2009): Farouk Hosni was defeated in his bid to become the Director-General of UNESCO. More
New York, NY, September 14, 2009 …In advance of this week's vote for the next head of UNESCO, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued an Open Letter urging member states to reject the candidacy of Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni, calling him "unfit for the position."
A leading candidate for Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Hosni has a history of rejecting cultural relations with Israel and once advocated the burning of Hebrew books in Egyptian libraries.
A first-round vote by the 58 member-states of UNESCO's Executive Board is set for September 17 in Paris.
"As Egyptian Culture Minister for over two decades, Mr. Hosni has a long history of expressing hostility toward Israeli culture and opposing cultural exchanges with Israel," states the Open Letter From ADL to Member States of UNESCO, which is signed by Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "These views are emblematic of the rampant anti-Jewish sentiment that pervades Egypt's cultural elites and is a trend UNESCO is meant to counter, not to legitimate."
The League's letter cites various examples of Mr. Hosni's past rhetoric vis-à-vis Israel and Israeli culture where he openly expressed hostility toward Israeli culture and Jews.
"Given the hatred which Mr. Hosni has promoted, it is not surprising that, as Minister of Culture, he has refused to permit any Israeli participation in Egypt's major cultural events, such as the annual Cairo Book Fair and Film Festival," the Open Letter continues.
"His banning of Israeli culture is just the tip of the iceberg. During his 22-year tenure, Mr. Hosni has restricted freedom of expression and used censorship to stifle cultural and intellectual freedom. His role in banning books from the Cairo Book Fair, films from the Alexandria Film Festival, and television shows from being broadcast has come under fire from artists, journalists and intellectuals from Egypt and around the world."
The ADL letter also notes that Hosni reportedly said that the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO was working against Mr. Hosni's candidacy because the ambassador is Jewish.
In "Farouk Hosni In His Own Words," ADL chronicles Mr. Hosni's long history of hostility toward Egyptian-Israeli cultural exchanges, including his declaration last year that, "I'd burn Israeli books myself if I found any in libraries in Egypt." Hosni later clarified that statement, saying it was made in anger and wasn't meant literally. More recently, he offered a belated and clearly motivated apology in an attempt to save his bid for the position.
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The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.