[QODLink]
Europe
Bokova wins Unesco leadership vote
Fomrer Bulgarian minister defeats Egyptian in race to lead UN cultural body.
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2009 18:33 GMT
Farouk Hosni has faced claims that he is an anti-semite, after comments he made last year [Reuters]

Irina Bokova, a former foreign minister for Bulgaria, has been selected to lead the United Nations' agency for education, culture and science (Unesco), beating the leading candidate for the post.

Bokova won the fifth and final round of voting on Tuesday against Farouk Hosni by 31 votes to 27, a dipolmat told reporters.

Bokova joined Bulgaria's foreign ministry UN and disarmament department in 1976, becoming the country's foreign minister for a brief period in 1996-1997.

She has witnessed Bulgaria's transformation from a nation within the Eastern Bloc to a European Union member.

When she takes over from Japan's Koichiro Matsuura - should her appointment be endorsed in October by Unesco's 193-member assembly - she will become the first woman to lead the UN body and the first from eastern Europe.

Anti-semitism allegations

Nine candidates were in the running for the senior job at Unesco when the body's council began voting last Thursday, but seven dropped out one-by-one.

Delegates had been split over the two remaining candidates, with Hosni, Egypt's minister of culture, facing accusations that he is an anti-semite.

PROFILES

  Farouk Hosni
  Irina Bokova

Hosni caused concern among some observers after he was quoted as saying he would burn Hebrew-language books.

Hosni has insisted his comments were part of an angry exchange in parliament with hardliners from the Muslim Brotherhood and were taken out of context.

He has also been associated with media censorship in his home country and sparked anger among Muslim groups there when he said the hijab was a "step backward" for Egyptian women.

Supporters of Hosni said his election would have sent a positive signal from the West to the Muslim world, pointing to Hosni's efforts to rebuild a crumbling old synagogue in Cairo, Egypt's capital.

But his critics say that the comments he made last year made him unfit for the role.

Hosni's detractors include Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz death camp survivor and Nobel laureate, who said the global cmmunity would be shamed if he was appointed.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
join our mailing list