Egypt's press on Wednesday slammed the defeat of its culture minister Faruq Hosni to become head of UNESCO as proof of a "clash of civilisations."
Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova won the job at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation on Tuesday after a close race with Hosni. "A clash of civilisations determines the UNESCO fight," trumpeted the headline in the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. "America, Europe and the Jewish lobby brought down Faruq Hosni after an honourable competition by the Egyptian delegation."
Egypt hoped that Hosni's election as the first Arab to head the agency would send a positive signal from the West to the Islamic world. But his campaign met strong opposition from US and French commentators as well as from Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who said appointing Hosni would "shame" the global community.
"The Egyptian and Arabic candidate for the post was subjected to a ferocious campaign against him by the American administration, under Jewish pressure," said the opposition weekly Al-Ahrar on its front page. "Faruq Hosni's campaign was met with an uncivilised attack by Jewish intellectuals in France," state-owned Al-Ahram Al-Messai wrote in its leader column.
"Efforts by the US ambassador to UNESCO as well as the Zionist media in Europe and the United States succeeded in securing (his defeat)," it said.
The Israeli media highlighted Hosni's comments in 2008 to the Egyptian parliament: "I'd burn Israeli books myself if I found any in libraries in Egypt."