Sunday, September 20, 2009

Did Farouk Hosny Report on Egyptian Student Activists in the Past?

A memorandum (in English, French and Arabic) signed by 15 Egyptian professors and journalists charges that as the Egyptian Cultural Attache in the early 1970's Farouk Hosny was involved and participate in "in repressive security practices against Egyptian students in Paris."
He had previously admitted that he exercised espionage activities against Egyptian students opposed to the former Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat, and wrote surveillance reports on their activities in favor of the Egyptian security apparatus which, in turn, exposed the students’ lives and academic career to grave threats.

Mr. Hosni has boasted and misrepresented, in public, these acts as a patriotic service; nevertheless, he admitted that only after it was revealed by Dr. Yahya el-Gamal, ex-minister, professor of International Law, and former cultural attaché in Paris, in his diaries titled “Ordinary Life Story.” It was then when Mr. Hosni went to the weekly magazine El Mosawwar , that published el-Gamal’s diaries, and admitted in a lengthy interview his spying and reporting practices.
The charge has been picked up in other sites (site one, site two)

I believe, although I can not find now find a reference, that he has again denied the charge.

Those of us who lived through the late 1960s and early 1970s can easily remember student protests. In the late 60's I was teaching in Chile, and my university there was closed for many months due to a protest. In the early 1970s I was teaching in Colombia, and not only was my university there closed for many months, but students were killed by the police on campus and thousands of students and their supporters were arrested. Between those stints, while I was a grad student at the University of California, Irvine in an extremely conservative U.S. community, there was a fire bombing that hit the building in which my department was housed.

I can easily believe that there were Egyptian students in Paris and that they were involved in protests when Hosny was cultural attache there. Would the cultural attache have been expected to report back to Cairo on Egyptian student demonstrations? I can not imagine he would not have been? If Farouk Hosny, a man who later rose to a very high position in the Egyptian government, had provided those reports would he have provided well written, informative reports? Of course they would have met the demands of his Government.

What would the Egyptian Government done with those reports? Remember that Anwar Sadat took office in 1970, to be assassinated in 1981. Egypt went to war with Israel in 1973, and Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978. It was a scary time in Egypt. Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak have assured the stability of Egypt for decades in part by acting forcefully against those who would oppose their regimes. So, I suppose that one might assume that the Egyptian Government would act against students that it felt might cause instability.

Is the charge by these Egyptians credible? Does it matter in terms of his candidacy for the position of Director General of UNESCO? Consider that UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and is especially concerned with the welfare of students who are studying in countries other than their own.

You decide!


Anonymous said...

Oh for pete's sake, Daly! How low will you stoop as the Israel lobby's stooge and the useful idiot of the State Department - a role that has been well known for a while now and which was definitively rumbled weeks ago, especially when you turned up on Ivonne Baki's facebook page as one of her friends. You have become a laughing stock at Unesco as a result but they all keep returning to your postings for more entertainment. Now you're recycling the Habibi-Al Zawihiri tale about Hosny's alleged student spying activities. The irony of course is that, even if there were a grain of truth in it, he would have been spying for the president who signed the Camp David accords and made peace with Israel. The further irony is that Habibi was imprisoned for participating in Sadat's assassination. But do keep it up because the sympathy now accumulating behind Hosny as a result of your and others' overkill may help him across the finishing post in first place... And no, I don't expect you'll print this one either. But hey, that's censorship (sorry, "blog author's approval") for you.

John Daly said...

I guess my annonymous commentator does not believe the story and does not think it important even if true. That is one camp heard from.

Sorry that you see my as a "stooge" of any lobby. I suspect that you may be right that those few in the State Department may regard me as an "idiot", but I seriously doubt that they regard me as "useful".

If I am bringing entertainment to the folk at UNESCO, at least that is some positive value to these very modest postings.

We will soon know how the voting turns out.

Anonymous said...

Haha, nice try! Actually, the only people who believe it are the fundamentalist extremists and Al Qaida sympathisers who concocted it - oh and the useful bloggers who happily trot it out on their websites. This is well known, even among the Egyptian intellectuals who have no great affection for Hosny but recognise a bunch of terrorists and gangsters trying to bring down a secular minister when they see one. As for "camps", I have a mind of my own, Mr Daly, and it is slightly less impressionable than yours, it would seem.

John Daly said...

This interview reported in an Arabic online website quotes Farouk Hosny as describing his involvement with Egyptian intelligence during his Paris years and later during the Achille Lauro affair.

John Daly said...

I have just rejected a comment with an unsubstantiated charge made anonymously against one of the candidates. I will publish sourced comments whether I agree with them or not, if presented in a civil fashion, but I will not do so without someone standing up for the accuracy of the report.

John Daly said...

I just rejected another comment from a supporter of Farouk Hosny who did not provide his name and who made charges without substantiation about the source for the story on Farouk Hosny.

Anonymous said...

haha, pathetic. But the Board knows all this and they are the ones who vote. This could go either way but if he wins, you may take pleasure in knowing that your unrelenting attacks masquerading as fact will have added at least 2 votes to his overall tally