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UNESCO Head Upset with Union That Ousted Syrian Poet Adonis

The director-general of UNESCO has protested a recent decision taken by the Arab Writers Union to expel Syrian poet Ali Ahmed Saeed from its membership.

Saeed, 65, whose pen name is Adonis, reportedly was kicked out of the union for attending a U.N. sponsored meeting in 1993 on peace in the Middle East.

Apparently, Saeed called at the meeting for a better understanding between Arabs and Israelis, which was not to the union’s liking. The writers union is based in Syria.

Federico Mayor, director-general of the Paris-based United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, did not give a reason for Saeed’s expulsion in the communique, in which he spoke out against the Union’s actions.

Federico Mayor wrote in the communique that he wanted to express his sadness upon learning of the decision “to expel Adonis, one of the brilliant poets of the Arab world.”

“This renowned writer, on the contrary, deserves praise for his daring fight for open-mindedness, essential for the culture of peace and international understanding,” said Mayor.

Mayor concluded the statement: “As the director-general of UNESCO, I entirely support the action taken, not only by Adonis, but also by all the Arab intellectuals, to confront obscurantism and to promote freedom of expression, human rights and peace.”

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