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International Affairs


Farouk Hosni In His Own Words

Farouk Hosni, the Egyptian Minister of Culture, has a long record of stymieing cultural relations with Israel, promoting censorship in Egypt, and making harsh anti-Israel and anti-Jewish statements.

His statements, including his call for burning Hebrew books found in Egyptian libraries, came to the fore in 2009 when Hosni became a leading candidate for Director-General of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, based in Paris.

On September 22, 2009 in a fifth round of voting, Hosni's candidacy was rejected by the 58 member-states of UNESCO's executive council, who voted 31-27 in favor of Ambassador Irina Bokova of Bulgaria.

Throughout his tenure as Minister of Culture, Mr. Hosni has consistently promoted policies that contravene the founding principles of UNESCO through his entrenched opposition to cultural exchanges with Israel and his hostility towards Israeli culture.

While Israel and Egypt have been at peace since 1979, and while the peace agreement specifically calls for fully normalized cultural relations, Mr. Hosni has refused to permit Israeli participation in Egypt's major cultural events, such as the annual Cairo Book Fair and Film Festival.

Mr. Hosni's antipathy toward Israel and Israeli culture and Jews is readily apparent from his public statements.  Some selected excerpts follow.


Posted: September 23, 2009

  • "It was clear by the end of the competition that there was a conspiracy against me …There are a group of the world's Jews who had a major influence in the elections who were a serious threat to Egypt taking this position."

(In a press conference at the Cairo airport after losing the UNESCO vote to Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova, September 23, 2009)

  • "Normalization? I know quite a bit about you, you have abilities that I hold in high esteem. I follow and am kept abreast. Believe me, I don't hate Israel and under no circumstances am I an anti-Semite. But cultural normalization? Not now."
    Q: Why not? 
    "We have political ties and economic cooperation. In my view, cultural ties are our weapon to pressure Israel into doing more on the Palestinian issue."

(Interview with Smadar Peri, Yediot Ahronot, June 13, 2008)

  • "We cannot dance with them, sing together or watch a piece of theatre when there are bloody attacks every day against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

(Interview with AFP, May 23, 2008)

  • "I would burn Israeli books myself if I found them in Egyptian libraries." 

(May 10, 2008) 
 

  • "They steal everything: musical heritage, cinema and even clothes and this is why they have to be treated with the same level of hate…"

(Interview to Al-Wasat, London, June 13, 2001) 
 

  • "My attitude towards normalization is known and so is my ministry's attitude: we oppose all kinds of normalization… The Ministry of Culture is practically the only official body that has a declared attitude against normalization…"

(Interview to Al-Mashahid as-Siyasi, London, June 10, 2001) 
 

  • "How would a normalization of this kind be possible, with such a culture that hates the other and robs its culture?"

(Interview with Al-Mashahid as-Siyasi, June 10, 2001) 
 

  • "The Israeli culture is inhuman. It is an aggressive, racist and arrogant culture, based on robbing other people's rights and the denial of such rights…"

(Interview with Al-Mashahid as-Siyasi, London, June 10, 2001) 
 

  • "Israel never left any eternal heritage for the civilization, in any period of time…" (From his statement in the opening of the Arab specialists gathering for the protection of antiquities in Arab countries

(Qatar News Agency, April 25, 2001). 
 

  • "Israel is known in the international arena as a state that steals everything and attributes it to itself…"

(Interview with Ruz al-Yousuf, April 21, 2001) 
 

  • "…They (the Zionists) do not want to commit a cultural invasion, they want to rob our culture and heritage…"

(Interview with the Lebanese As-Safir, December 7, 2000) 
 

  • "The Israelis do not stop claiming that they built the pyramids, and this is why we need to stand firmly and respond courageously… even if it leads to a crisis because those pirates are committing a robbery… The Israelis want everything…"
    "…This is the way the Israelis took Palestine… Now they use (this method) regarding the big pyramid. These are continuous projects – people come, steal your history and civilization. This proves that Israel has no history or civilization, since those who have history of their own do not need to rob the history of others …"
    "…Israel has many political goals… First of all, they steal your civilization and history. Second, they do not have any civilization, i.e. they do not have a country, and do not deserve a country. This is why they create a country by force…"

(Interview with Ros al-Yusuf, May 5, 1997, "Israel is Robbing the Pyramids as it Robbed Palestine")

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