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memri
November 26, 2017 No.
7196

Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas Awards Medal Of Honor To Egyptian Writer Mohamed Salmawy, Known For His Extremist And Antisemitic Views

Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas recently awarded a medal of honor to Egyptian writer Mohamed Salmawy, the former chairman of the Egyptian Writers Union and currently an advisor to the union, for his literary contribution to the Palestinian cause. The award ceremony, held at the Palestinian embassy in Cairo, was attended by Palestinian officials and writers. Speakers at the ceremony emphasized that Salmawy's works documented the stories of martyrs and served as "literary-ideological weapons" in the service of the Palestinian cause. One month ago, Salmawy was also awarded the "Yasser Arafat Africa Prize for Freedom and Peace" in Senegal, at the initiative of the Palestinian ambassador to the country. This prize was awarded at a festive event sponsored by the Senegalese president and attended by the Palestinian ambassador and by Senegalese and Arab officials.

Salmawy, renowned in the Arab world and especially in Egypt, is known for his virulently antisemitic views. In February 1998, he published in the French-language Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Hebdo an article titled "Look for the Jews!", in which he argued, citing Holocaust deniers Roger Garaudy and David Irving, that the Jews seek to harm anyone who does not support them. He implied that the Jews were behind the publicizing of the Lewinsky scandal with the aim of preventing then U.S. president Bill Clinton from pressuring the Israeli government into making concessions to the Palestinians. He also attacked the French law criminalizing Holocaust denial and the charges brought against Roger Garaudy based on this law, writing: "The thinker Roger Garaudy is being prosecuted on the basis of a law that seems to belong to the Middle-Ages, but which was passed in 1990. This law... bans the questioning of crimes against humanity. However, in this case the word 'humanity' does not refer to the human race, but only to six million Jews who were supposedly the victims of genocide during World War II."[1]

 


The article in Al-Ahram Hebdo

 

In 2002, Salmawy published the anthology Wafa Idris and Other Palestinian Stories, the titular story of which praises Wafa Idris, from the Al-Am'ari refugee camp near Ramallah, who was the first Palestinian female suicide bomber. Idris perpetrated a bombing on a street in central Jerusalem in January of that year, at the beginning of the Second Intifada, killing one man and wounding more than 100. The bombing was initially claimed by no organization, but three days after it, Fatah's armed branch, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility for it. Salmawy's story was also the basis of a film called "Bomb."[2]

 


Cover of the book Wafa Idris and Other Palestinian Stories (image: goodreads.com)

Salmawy Awarded Medal Of Honor On Behalf Of President 'Abbas At Palestinian Embassy In Cairo

As stated, Salmawy was recently awarded a medal of honor on behalf of the Palestinian president at a ceremony held at the Palestinian embassy in Cairo. The invitation to the ceremony said: "Reflecting the esteem of [Palestinian] President Mahmoud 'Abbas, may Allah preserve him, for the great writer and journalist Mohamed Salmawy, the embassy of the Palestinian State in Egypt and the Palestinian Writers Union are honored to invite you to the celebration in honor of [Salmawy], at which he will be awarded a medal of excellence in the field of culture, art and science."[3]

The awarding of the medal to Salmawy was widely reported in the Egyptian press. The Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm reported: "The president of the Palestinian state awarded the writer and media personality Mohamed Salmawy with a medal of excellence [in the field of] creation, culture, art and science. This is regarded as one of the highest Palestinian honors, awarded to great [thinkers in the domains of] philosophy, literature and culture who promote human justice and defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. [Salmawy received it] in appreciation of his contribution to art and media in the Arab countries and the world and in appreciation of his role in the service of Arab causes, chiefly the Palestinian cause." The report stated further that "the medal was awarded [to Salmawy], on Mahmoud 'Abbas's behalf, by Palestinian Ambassador in Cairo Diab Al-Louh; Palestinian Justice Minister 'Ali Abu Diak; Arab League assistant secretary-general for Palestinian affairs Sa'id Abu 'Ali, and secretary-general of the Palestinian Writers Union, the poet Murad Al-Sudani... They noted that Salmawy's stories document the statements of the martyrs, the [Palestinian] steadfastness, and the challenges faced by those who adhered to their land and [shed] their blood to defend their national and historic rights."[4]


November 22, 2017 report in Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, headed "Tomorrow [PA President] Abu Mazen Will Bestow upon Salmawy Palestine's Highest Cultural Honor"


November 22, 2017 report in Egyptian paper Al-Ahram, headed "Abu Mazen Awards Salmawy Palestine's Most Prestigious Medal of Honor"

Palestinian Ambassador To Cairo: Salmawy Provided "Literary-Ideological Weapons" In Defense Of The Palestinian Struggle

Palestinian Ambassador to Cairo Diab Al-Louh said at the ceremony that "the awarding of the medal to a man of [Salmawy's] caliber is [an expression] of Palestine's and the Palestinian President's loyalty to Egypt... The writer Salmawy provided literary-ideological weapons that consolidated an idea and defended the Palestinians' liberty and struggle. The medal is [given in appreciation of] the Arab nation's privilege and duty [to assist] Palestine, and encourages anyone who defends the justice of the Palestinian cause."[5]


Salmawy with Palestinian Justice Minister 'Ali Abu Diak (image: Al-Yawm Al-Sabi,' Egypt, November 23, 2017)

Palestinian Writers Union Secretary-General: Salmawy "Always Praised Wafa Idris," Palestine's First Female Suicide Bomber

The Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' reported: "The poet Murad Al-Sudani, secretary-general of the Palestinian Writers Union, who attended the ceremony, said that Mohamed Salmawy had always supported various causes related to Palestine and devoted his time and energy to it. He always praised the fighter Wafa Idris. Therefore, Palestine was duty-bound to honor him."[6]

The Al-Masri Al-Yawm daily reported that Mohamed Salmawy, for his part, "praised 'Abbas for supporting Arab culture, stressing that the awarding of such a national medal of honor is a serious responsibility, for it reflects a fundamental component of the consciousness of an entire generation that has exhibited considerable openness in its perception of large national causes, the most important of which is Palestine. It is a natural reflection of [this generation's] creation and struggle, in literature and in the media, aimed at upholding the justness of Palestinian liberty... [Salmawy] stated that his various roles have required him to represent Palestine on every ideological platform and in international unions, in order to underscore the presence of the state of Palestine, which [already] exists even if it has not yet [officially] been named – for reality proves that the Palestinian people and homeland exist, as do their literature, culture and history." [7]


Salmawy speaking at the ceremony; in the background is the Palestinian embassy's invitation (image: Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Egypt, November 23, 2017)

Salmawy Awarded "Yasser Arafat Prize" At Initiative Of Palestinian Embassy In Senegal

In addition to the medal awarded him by 'Abbas, Salmawy was recently awarded the "Yasser Arafat Africa Prize for Freedom and Peace" in Senegal, at the initiative of the Palestinian embassy in the country. The ceremony, held in the capital Dakar, was sponsored by Senegal President Macky Sall and attended by Senegalese officials and the ambassadors of Egypt, Palestine and Kuwait, as well as by writers and media representatives.[8] The head of the prize committee said that Salmawy had been honored for "his prominent and significant literary contribution, which includes honest positions in defense of the causes and rights of the peoples that are fighting for liberty and independence, and especially for his keen interest in defending the just nature of the Palestinian cause and his involvement in the struggle of the leader Yasser Arafat."[9]


Salmawy receiving the prize in Dakar (image: Akhbar Al-Yawm, Egypt, November 18, 2017)

In September this year, Salmawy was also awarded the Al-Quds Prize, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Arab Writers Union.[10]

Salmawy In Series Of Articles: The Jewish Lobby Secretly Arranged For Audrey Azoulay To Be Appointed Head Of UNESCO

This year, Salmawy again published a number of articles with an antisemitic flavor, concerning the appointment of former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay, who is Jewish, as director-general of UNESCO. In July, several months before her appointment, he published articles against her candidacy, claiming that she had been put forward as a candidate by former French president Francois Hollande in order to keep an Arab from being appointed. He noted that she is the daughter of Andre Azoulay, a senior advisor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, "who belongs to a large Jewish family with ties to Jewish pressure groups in France, chiefly CRIF, the umbrella organization of the Jewish bodies in France." Salmawy also mentioned that he had fought against Azoulay's appointment as UNESCO head by presenting the French ambassador in Egypt with a petition signed by dozens of Arab intellectuals, artists and former ministers urging French President Macron to remove her as a candidate.

In October, following her appointment, Salmawy published articles claiming that the "Jewish lobby" had acted behind the scenes and exerted extensive pressure to arrange it, so as to prevent an Arab from being chosen. He added that CRIF had promised Macron before his election as president that it would support his candidacy if Macron, for his part, supported Azoulay's candidacy for directorship of UNESCO. According to Salmawy, CRIF also asked Macron to pledge that France would act to end UNESCO's anti-Israel bias.

Salmawy wrote further that "it is no secret that the Jewish lobby placed all its clout behind the candidacy of the French candidate [Azoulay], although we could find no public expression of this." Pressures by Jewish elements, he said, were also behind the decision of the U.S. and Israel to announce their withdrawal from UNESCO right before the election for its new director, in a bid to affect the result and secure a win for Azoulay.[11]


Audrey Azoulay (image: alwasat.com.kw, November 10, 2017)

 


[1] Al-Ahram Hebdo (Egypt), February 4, 1998.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 22, 2002.

[3] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 23, 2017.

[4] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 23, 2017.

[5] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 23, 2017.

[6] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 23, 2017.

[7] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 23, 2017.

[8] Akhbar Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 18, 2017.

[9] Palestinian Ambassador to Senegal, Dr. Safwat Bregheith, said at the ceremony that the Palestinian leadership seeks to tighten the historic relations between Africa and Palestine , following in the footsteps of the eternal leader Arafat in search of freedom, peace, the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of the refugees to the homes from which they were expelled. Al-Watan (Egypt), October 10, 2017.

[10] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), September 21, 2017.

[11] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 2, 2017; July 9, 2017; October 15, 2017; October 22, 2017; October 29, 2017.