Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Egyptian minister declares 'culture war' on Israel"

Source: Roee Nahmias, YNet News, 09.26.09

I quote the lead:
Farouk Hosni, who recently lost vote for UNESCO leadership, declares intention to launch 'culture war against tyranny, dwarf Israel vis-à-vis Egyptian culture'; Outraged minister blames racism, Jews for UN defeat
and, from the body of the report:
Several days after having lost the vote for UNESCO's leadership, Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni declared Saturday his intention to "launch a culture war against Israel."

In an interview with Egyptian newspaper al-Masri al-Yaum, Hosni charged that he lost the UN vote because of "radicalism, racism, and the Jews," who he claied attacked him over his harsh views against cultural normalization vis-à-vis Israel.

Hosni used the interview to declare what he referred to a "culture war on tyranny," vowing to challenge Israel on all fronts, thereby dwarfing its status vis-à-vis Egypt.
And also from the text of the article:
The Egyptian minister also accused America's UNESCO representative, as well as the envoys of Eastern European states, Japan, and the Jews for undermining his candidacy.

On Friday, United Arab Emirates newspaper al-Khalig published another interview with Hosni, where he stated that he is reverting to his traditional stance against normalization with Israel. The Egyptian minister softened his rhetoric ahead of the UN vote, ostensibly in a bid to boost his chances.
Comment: No wonder that we see reports that five members of the Executive Board allowed themselves to be replaced rather than vote for him.

There has been some discussion on this blog as to the homogeneity of culture in countries that speak Arabic. Minister Hosny emphasizes Egyptian culture, not Arab culture. That makes sense to me. Egypt occupies a unique landscape which has long influenced its culture. Egypt has a continuous culture dating from Pharaonic, Greek and Roman times; that early history is different that that of the other Arab lands and must influence its culture today. Egypt had an especially rich heritage in the last millennium, where Cairo was often a center of cultural excellence in the Islamic world. Coptic and Jewish communities have existed in Egypt for thousands of years, and have contributed to its cultural richness -- as Minister Hosny has acknowledged in his efforts to assure the maintenance of their historical artifacts. Egypt has been an important intermediary in the commerce between Asia and Europe for thousands of years, and had an especially active interaction with European cultures since Napoleon invaded; no doubt that its culture has been enriched by those contacts in ways that the cultures of other Arab nations have not. Perhaps most important, in the last half century the Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak administrations have taken Egypt on a unique development path which has profoundly affected its culture. It would be a mistake to underestimate the richness and complexity of Egyptian culture by assuming that it is no different than the Arab cultures of Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, as it would be to assume that the rich cultural heritage of those nations was the same as that of Egypt.


John Daly said...

Ursula Lindsey, a Western journalist who has lived in Egypt for some years, provides a balanced view of Farouk Hosny and his loss of the election to be UNESCO Director General in Foreign Policy.

Anonymous said...

And events in the old city of Jerusalem in the last 24 hours have, hopefully, woken the slumberers and the gullible up to the real agenda driving Hosny's opponents.