Friday, October 2, 2009

UNESCO Election and Arab Hypocrisy: The Victim Game

On behalf of Voice of the Copts, I offer best wishes to the newly elected UNESCO Director-General, Her Excellence Ambassador Irina Bokova, wishing her the best of luck in serving cultural interests in the international community.

My congratulation goes also to all the countries who voted in favor of the newly elected Director-General who defeated the Egyptian-regime candidate. Ambassador Bokova will be the first Eastern European and the first woman to run the Paris-based cultural body. She is 57 years old. Bokova was former Bulgarian foreign minister, also a former Socialist Party member. She served as Bulgarian foreign minister in 1996 and took part in the country’s transformation from an Eastern bloc nation to EU membership. She is currently Bulgarian ambassador to France .

Ambassador Irina Bokova was chosen after deep divisions, which saw the secret ballot go to a knife-edge fifth round for the first time in UNESCO’s history. Bokova’s opponent was Farouk Hosni, the current Egyptian minister of culture. Hosni has been part of the actual Egyptian regime for more than 22 years as minister. The Egyptian president, Mubarak, was the official sponsor in the nomination of Hosni’s bid to lead UNESCO.

The triumph of the Bulgarian ambassador was a great blow to the Egyptian regime. The reaction of the regime to the election results is the reason for this analysis. First, there is one thing that needs to be emphasized; no statement has yet been made by the Egyptian culture minister or by the Egyptian regime to congratulate Bokova. Is this indicative of the goodwill expected of a civil candidate and his country anticipating leadership of one of the highest international cultural bodies? However, as is typical, there most likely will be a statement of congratulations issued by the Egyptian regime after being prompted by these comments.

In his recent interview of September 26, 2009 for the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, Mr. Hosni stated the following:

“I went to UNESCO carrying great programs that met the recognition and enthusiasm of a lot of members.”

In regard to this, I wonder why this same man, when in power for nearly a quarter of a century, did nothing for his own country. How could the cultural and scientific world allow such a man to lead the most respectable United Nations organization when only a few months earlier he wanted to burn any Jewish book found in the Egyptian libraries? Personally, I do not accept his excuses. His statement brings to mind the burning of the famous library of Alexandria ( Egypt ) immediately after the Arab invasion. Hosni’s statement was a clear indication that he is following the same path of his Arab grandfathers.

I wondered, when a few months ago, a former Egyptian ambassador (acting as an agent) contacted me as a fellow Copt proclaiming that what I do as head of Voice of the Copts is a waste of time, since no one pays any attention to the information released or articles written. Furthermore, he kindly invited me to stop. Meanwhile, in the last two months, our office received a couple of phone calls from high ranking Egyptian government personnel. The first call was from an unknown number, requesting us to avoid protesting during Mubarak’s visit in Washington , which we kindly declined. The second call was from Paris , immediately after the release of our article inviting western governments not to vote in favor of the Egyptian candidate.
It is obvious that information released by Voice of the Copts is carefully read by the Egyptian regime and does not meet its appreciation.

The phone call from Paris better explained the game that the Egyptian regime was playing. The gentleman, after introducing himself, maintained that he was a Copt trying to help Mr. Hosni to achieve his goal. The question is, why would a secretary from the opposing political party be a part of the government delegation. The answer is simple, the Egyptian regime wants to show the West that Copts are not discriminated against and that they are part of Egyptian political interests. I would like to add that those Copts are more dangerous to Copts than the regime itself.
For more than two years the Egyptian regime spent a lot of diplomatic and political effort, as well as money to assure its culture minister would become head of UNESCO. Meanwhile, the people of Egypt well know that the minister did nothing in more than 22 years to improve any form of culture.
Mr. Farouk Hosni’s career in culture started a long time ago, when he was the Egyptian cultural officer. Officially he was to provide and improve Egyptian culture outside of Egypt . In reality he was a government secret service agent, reporting the political activity of students and intellectuals. His nomination as the cultural minister was a recognition for his good work as a secret agent and not for his work as a promoter of culture. Hosni’s statement to burn all and any Jewish book found in Egyptian libraries while the Egyptian regime was working hard to convince European countries to choose him is a clear indication of his cultural interests.

On several occasions Hosni and other Arab Muslim leaders stated that it’s time for an Arab Muslim to lead the organization! In spite of the fact that Mr. Hosni used to live in western countries, he ignored the fact that in the West the value of a person is based upon his capacity for hard work and never based on heritage or religion.

Hosni, as culture minister, did nothing to educate the people of Egypt about H1N1 (swine flu) leaving ignorant people to kill in a barbaric way over than 600,000 swine, damaging income for almost 2 million persons. The same UNESCO recommendations were ignored by Hosni in the beginning of this year. Hosni refused to follow UNESCO recommendation concerning huge construction projects that were taking place in the tourist city of Luxor, in spite of the fact that UNESCO considered such projects potentially damaging to ancient monuments located in that city. As a cultural minister Hosni did nothing to improve human rights, instead his office went after Egyptian thinkers, bloggers and liberals.

Upon Mr. Hosni’s defeat and return to Cairo , his statements clearly demonstrate his hypocrisy and his willingness to play the victim game.
The following are a few sentences taken from an Egyptian newspaper that interviewed the minister on September 26, 2009. The newspaper’s name is “Al Masry Al Youm”:

“I went to UNESCO carrying new enthusiastic ideas, along with inventive actions. A lot of delegation was excited about my great program…”
“I was not battling against one or eight candidates, but I was battling against the media and lobbies.”

Hosni, answering a question concerning kick-back for vote, “that occurred, at certain times was done openly…certain countries including USA did politicize the election.”

“UNESCO never had that kind of challenge before, first of all discrimination between North and South, Jews that swear that I would never be the leader of that organization, …”

“UNESCO lives over Egyptian ancient history…”

“….. UNESCO was not famous prior to this election, but thanks to this election and me, now everyone know about this organization”

Sorry, Mr. Minister of Egyptian culture, but personally, I have known about UNESCO since I was in elementary school in Egypt . I forgot, however, that this was before your time, when culture use to mean culture!

Dottore Architetto Ashraf Ramelah

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