CAIRO: In response to an article published by French newspaper Le Monde, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni apologized for making “anti-Israeli statements in an editorial published in the same paper.
In its May 28 issue, Le Monde ran Hosni’s editorial, tilted “Why I am elected, in which the minister explained his stance towards normalization with Israel.
“I am a man of peace, Hosni wrote, 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 May 22, 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 general director.
The article quoted Hosni on statements it deemed “anti-Israeli, citing his notorious reaction to the idea of Israeli books being included in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
“Burn those books. If it were up to me I will burn all Hebrew books with my hands, Hosni was quoted as saying.
Hosni apologized for these statements, explaining it was not his intention to offend anyone.
“My words were shocking, and I understand that, Hosni said, adding that they were said within a certain context.
In his editorial, Hosni said he shares the Arab world’s anger over the plight of the Palestinians, who “have been suffering from injustice for more than half a century.
In another press statement Wednesday, Hosni again apologized for his call to “burn all Hebrew books, saying it was a “slip of the tongue.
He clarified that there is a difference between Arab and Egyptian feelings towards Israel and his stance as a member of the UNESCO. He assured that Israel “will be dealt with like any other country.
Le Monde had also cited other statements Hosni made that date back to 1997.
The article claimed Hosni rejected normalization attempts with Israel that he describes as “the enemy.
“In April 2001, [Hosni] said, ‘Israel has never contributed to the world’s civilization’ – and repeated [in June 2001]: ‘The Israeli culture is inhumane; it is aggressive, racist, and pretentious’, the article reads.
The article indicated that the quotes it included are only “a few – and not the most obnoxious of Hosni’s anti-Israeli’s statements, adding that there are many similar statements that he made during his 15-year tenure as Minister of Culture.