The failed vote for Farouk Hosni, the anti-Jewish advocate of book-burning and candidate for the director-generalship of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be satisfying news to those repelled by Hosni’s record of hateful rhetoric. Hosni summoned up only 27 votes to 31 for Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova in Tuesday’s final balloting.
But in the words of a UNESCO insider, “We’re almost out of the woods, but not quite.”
Bokova’s victory must still be confirmed at a meeting, scheduled for October 15, of the UNESCO General Conference, comprising all 192 UN member states plus five small island dependencies in the Caribbean and Pacific, and the enclave of Macao. A new international brawl cannot be excluded from consideration.
Meanwhile, on September 19, the respected Arab progressive website elaph.com produced another stunning revelation about the career of Farouk Hosni: assertions by Hosni that while he served as Egyptian cultural attachÃ© to Italy, from 1982-87, he helped in the escape of terrorists responsible for the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of American Jewish paraplegic, Leon Klinghoffer, who was thrown overboard. Those Hosni claims to have assisted included Abu Abbas, the Palestinian commander of the hijack operation, who was not apprehended until he was found by U.S.-led coalition forces in Baghdad in 2003. According to elaph, Hosni noted the terrorists had been on a flight from the ship to Cairo when their plane was forced by the U.S. air force to land in Italy.
Hosni allegedly admitted, “The Egyptian secret service manoeuvred so that I received the terrorists at the Academy of Egyptian Art in Rome, which I chaired, and where I had diplomatic immunity. The Italian judicial authorities wanted to question the non-Egyptians in the terror team. [Elaph editor: Egyptian secret police had been aboard the Achille Lauro during the hijacking.] I told the Italian investigator that all those involved were Egyptians, without even thinking that it was a lie, and delayed handing him their passports. We managed to get [most of them] on a plane scheduled to leave Italy while the Italian government believed the men were still in the Academy of Egyptian Art. Once I was informed the plane had landed in Egypt and the men were safe, I handed all the passports over to the Italian official. But they were already out of reach, safe in Egypt , and could not be touched.” (www.elaph.com - Translation from Arabic by Center for Islamic Pluralism)
We know that Farouk Hosni has a loose mouth, and cannot be certain how much of this tale is mere embroidery. But what more from the past of a prospective UNESCO Director-General might await exposure?