'Jews don't want an Arab or Muslim heading the UNESCO,' says culture minister

Safaa Abdoun
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Egypt’s Minister of Culture and the only Arab candidate vying for the position of UNESCO’s director general, Farouk Hosni, told Egyptian terrestrial television that he “refuses normalization with Israel.

In an interview aired on Thursday night, Hosni explained that there are currently negotiations between Egypt and Israel regarding peace in the region and Egypt’s objective is for Israel to return all the Arab land and to have a Palestinian state and an Israeli state side by side.

“Peace is for their [Israel’s] own good as well as for our own good, he said.

Hosni spoke of how having important organizations such as the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference supporting his candidacy has influenced his chances inside UNESCO.

He added that receiving support from the entire African Union, with the exception of two states, was an honor.

Regarding European support for his candidacy, Hosni said that he is lucky to have the support of “important European states, adding that being an Egyptian has given him an advantage above other candidates.

However, he said that “it will be a mistake for France to announce its stance towards the candidates for UNESCO’s general director.

Last May, French newspaper Le Monde published an article titled “UNESCO: The Shame of a Shipwreck, that condemned UNESCO’s consideration of Hosni as a candidate for the organization’s top post, quoting Hosni on statements it deemed “anti-Israeli.

In response, Hosni wrote an editorial in the same paper one week later in which he apologized for his “anti-Israeli statements and explained his stance towards normalization with Israel.

“I am a man of peace, Hosni wrote in the May 28 issue of Le Monde, explaining that he is a minister in Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, and the country that has always prioritized negotiations and peace treaties over violence.

On the other hand, Hosni said in the interview that he is not worried about France’s position as there is a strong relationship between Egypt and France both politically and culturally.

Hosni attributes the campaigns launched against him to the fact that “Jews do not want an Arab or a Muslim in this position because of the sensitive situation in Jerusalem.

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