CAIRO: Local press reports allege that Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has twice disqualified journalist and poet Farouk Goweida from nomination for membership of the Supreme Council for Culture over the past three months in retaliation for a series of articles critical of the government.
The article series titled “The Land Mafia, which were published in the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, heavily criticized the government for not following due process when selling state-owned land to investors and businessmen.
When contacted by Daily News Egypt, Farouk Goweida’s words were measured. “I don’t want to get into this, he said, “I’m leaving it in the hands of the government.
According to local press reports, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni had sent Nazif an official letter three months ago nominating Goweida for membership of the council to replace writer Fatma Moussa, who passed away.
Nazif allegedly discarded the nomination, so Hosni sent another nomination letter last week, again fielding Goweida and others to replace members of the council who had just passed away.
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Goweida was “crossed off the list and substituted with Egyptologist and writer Ali Radwan.
Hosni immediately responded to the allegations made in the papers. “The Supreme Council for Culture does not belong to anyone. We nominate candidates whom the prime minister must approve. Leegations made against Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif are false, he said in a press statement.
“I has spoken to Farouk Goweida a short time ago and told him about the nomination, but I only sent the one official letter nominating Goweida, not two, he added.
News of Nazif’s rejection of Goweida’s nomination has upset journalists and writers around Egypt.
“If this news is true, I think this is the end of Ahmed Nazif as a political figure. Anyone who objects to appointing a writer because he expressed himself freely is stupid, he is not the Prime Minister of Egypt but the Prime Minister of a dictatorship and it’s a great thing for Farouk Goweida not to have the signature of a stupid man under his name, said Louis Greiss, journalist and member of the Higher Press Council.
“Goweida has been known for 30 years as a great poet, free thinker and a great person. He has always been a great advocate of freedom of expression and he writes for the benefit of the country. It would be the Prime Minister’s loss if he doesn’t pick the right person, added Greiss.
Goweida is known for his bold opinions. Just last summer he wrote the column “Angry Letters, which was a response to a number of angry letters he received from faculty of law graduates who were disqualified from jobs that were given to other graduates with lower grades.
As a result, Goweida was summoned and interrogated by the Supreme Court for four hours after which he was admitted to the intensive care unit at a hospital as a result of physical and psychological stress.