New York, NY, September 22, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the election of Bulgarian Ambassador Irina Bokova as Director-General of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Bokova defeated Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni by a vote of 31-27.
Hosni has a long record of stymieing cultural relations with Israel, promoting censorship in Egypt, and making harsh anti-Israel and anti-Jewish statements. The 193 member states of UNESCO are slated to vote to confirm the election on October 15.
"The election of Irina Bokova is a victory for the values of cultural diversity and free exchange between peoples," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "In rejecting Mr. Hosni's candidacy, the 58 member-states of the UNESCO executive committee have cast their vote in favor of using culture and science as a means to unite the international community. We commend the United States and all those governments who voted to uphold the founding mission of UNESCO and to reject the bias and hostility to cultural openness and free expression that Mr. Hosni promotes."
In the days leading up to the vote, ADL issued an open letter to UNESCO foreign ministers urging them to reject Hosni's candidacy. "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," the letter said. "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."