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On October 16, Egypt’s former candidate for UNESCO Director-General, Moushira Khattab, revealed the potential reasons for her defeat in the UNESCO elections in a TV interview. Khattab said, “The closure of libraries in Egypt has negatively affected our position in UNESCO.” Her comment referred to branches of the Al-Karama library, which are affiliated with Gamal Eid, a prominent human rights advocate who heads the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Two branches of the Al-Karama library were closed down by Egypt’s security apparatus for unexplained reasons in December 2016.

Khattab also labeled Egypt’s controversial NGO law as another issue complicating her candidacy. Prior to the elections, several representatives of Egypt’s civil society sector, including ANHRI and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, publicly opposed Egypt heading UNESCO due to the country’s poor performance in a variety of categories related to the protection of human rights. Eid also opposed her candidacy due to her strong ties to the regime of Hosni Mubarak, under whom she served as an ambassador. Khattab recommended that the Egyptian state reconsider these positions if Egypt wishes to see greater success in future UN elections.

Photo Credit: Egypt Daily News

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