Former Culture Minister Farouk Hosni is used to responding to the accusations made against him. Since his first day at the ministry, everyone put him in the dock. He has been accused of destroying Egyptian culture, insulting intellectuals and exploiting his position to market his own paintings, which his critics see as just “children’s scrawls.”
But these accusations do not bother the minister, who still considers the criticism as a proof of success; he loves the controversy surrounding his projects and works, because it increases its fame and success. So I was not surprised when I found he was holding a seminar in the salon of writer Ahsan Abdel Qoddous, which he titled “Farouk Hosni under attack”, where he called on the audience to bring accusations against him so that he could respond.
But the audience could not bring accusations against the minister. Eight years after leaving his post, which was the reason behind these accusations, those who are engaged in cultural work have realized his value, praising his achievements and projects; he has become a common factor in any talk about culture and archaeology.
The salon turned into a session of praise and support for the artist minister. The audience listened passionately to the stories of his great projects, such as the development of al-Moez Street, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat, and the Grand Egyptian Museum – all projects he launched or initiated.
The audience asked for explanations about cases that were the subject of accusations against the minister, such as the fire at the Beni Suef theater and his story of being placed in the dock when he was a defendant in an illicit gains case, which he was then acquitted of after being proven innocent.
Farouk Hosni said, “I refused to flee outside Egypt, because I am confident in the justice of God, and I accepted to stand in the dock and with a satisfied mind.”
Instead of attacking Farouk Hosni, the audience criticized the officials who are currently engaged in cultural work. These officials didn’t even mention his name at the Ministry of Culture’s 60th anniversary celebration, despite the fact he had been in charge of the ministry for 24 years – nearly half its age.
Farouk Hosni also received a lot of questions about his artworks, especially as some see them as “scrawls”, which society may not understand.
But the controversial minister, who works to promote public taste, calmly replied, “Art is not required to come down to society’s level of understanding, but to elevate them and give them insights that contribute to the development of their imagination.”
The salon briefly summarized the years of attack against Farouk Hosni as minister and artist – the years during which he was under fire and in the dock, before his innocence was determined. His attackers move to the defense and his artistic “scrawls” become a source of admiration for the same audience who did not understand them before. Time, as Farouk Hosni once said, can refute any accusations.