Bulgarian picked to head Unesco

Ex-minister Irina Bokova defeats Egyptian Farouk Hosni in race to lead UN cultural body.

    Bokova, pictured, becomes the first woman and Eastern European to head Unesco [AFP]

    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, and will be the first person from the region to head Unesco.

    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.


      Irina Bokova
      Farouk Hosni

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

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

    But his critics said that the book-burning comments made him unfit for the role.

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

    Hosni has been associated with media censorship in his home country.

    He also 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.

    SOURCE: Agencies


     How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    Ninety-nine years since Balfour's "promise", Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    In the rundown Pedion Areos Park, older men walk slowly by young asylum seekers before agreeing on a price for sex.

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    The story of a most-wanted fugitive and billionaire.