Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

A thin line between fact-checking and propaganda in Gaza social media coverage

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FOCUS

Ireland's missing babies cast light on dark history

Read more

WEB NEWS

World Cup 2014: Germany-Brazil inspires the Web

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Boutros-Ghali: 'I wanted to reform the UN'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

57 000 little problems

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

The Sarkozy 'threat'

Read more

  • Video: Palestinians fear full Israeli military offensive in Gaza

    Read more

  • Video: Living in Tel Aviv, under threat of rocket attack

    Read more

  • Manhunt as FIFA partner flees Rio hotel to avoid arrest

    Read more

  • US prepared to negotiate Gaza ceasefire, Obama says

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more

  • Germany asks US intelligence station chief to leave country

    Read more

  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon appoints new Syria mediator

    Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • Tour de France passes WWI Chemin des Dames battlefield

    Read more

  • Senegalese man awarded French visa in gay marriage debate

    Read more

  • Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

Culture

Egyptian candidate for top job denies anti-Semitism

©

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-09-17

Farouk Hosni, the leading candidate to become the next head of UNESCO, has made the headlines after being accused of anti-Semitism in remarks he made to a fellow Egyptian parliamentarian, words Hosni insists were taken out of context.

Voting began on Thursday to elect a new head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with controversy surrounding the leading candidate Farouk Hosni due to allegations that he made anti-Semitic comments, including a vow to "burn Israeli books".

Hosni's leading bid ran into trouble in May when Auschwitz survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel joined two French intellectuals to oppose his candidacy.
   
The clamour surrounds comments Hosni made in May 2008, vowing to "burn Israeli books" himself if he found any in Egyptian libraries.

But in an interview with FRANCE 24, Hosni said his words had been taken out of context, and he insisted his record showed he was anything but anti-Semitic.

"A member of parliament asked me if I knew that there were Israeli books insulting Islam in the national library," he said in the interview. "I said that I did not know this. And when he persisted, I told him that if there were books insulting Islam that he should bring them to me and I would burn them."

Hosni also said that, as culture minister, he had restored all of Egypt's dozen synagogues and that he had had Hebrew books translated into Arabic.

"Scandalous"
  
Hosni's main rival for the post is European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, but the choice of Egypt's candidate has won much support in Europe as an attempt to reach out to the Muslim world.
   
France must remain neutral on the issue as it is the host country for UNESCO but officials have said privately that Paris favours Hosni for the job.
   
A recent article in the prestigious American Foreign Policy magazine described Hosni's bid as "scandalous" and accused him of echoing the "rampant Judeophobia" of Egyptian intellectual circles.
   
Amid the brouhaha, the United States has refused to publicly back a contender, but a State Department spokesman took pains to point out that the "right candidate" must have a "demonstrated commitment to UNESCO's core principles."
   
About five rounds of voting are expected to take place to choose the new director general and the appointment is to be endorsed by UNESCO's 193-member assembly in October.

 

Date created : 2009-09-17

Comments

COMMENT(S)