Osama El-Ghazali Harb (Photo:Ahram)
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb has retracted his appointment of Ghazali Harb as culture minister following complaints by prominent intellectuals.
Mehleb assigned the role to Harb, a well-known politician and founder of the liberal Democratic Front Party, on Wednesday.
But within hours, a number of famous poets, thinkers and writers had announced their opposition to the appointment.
"It ignores all the writers, poets, novelists and critics in Egypt," said poet Abdel Al-Abnoudy on Wednesday night. "The choice of Ghazli Harb is strange because he does not understand the problems facing intellectuals or the culture ministry."
A group of intellectuals issued a statement on Facebook announcing their complete rejection of Harb's appointment.
"We announce our rejection of this politicised choice that shows how the culture ministry and its institutions are being underestimated," the statement said.
The culture minister should be "neutral" and without "partisan affiliation," it added.
"Dr Osama Ghazali Harb was a member of the National Democratic Party's policy committee," the statement noted. "We had hoped for a technocrat cabinet."
Within hours their anger had reached the new prime minister. And poet and journalist Gamal Bekheet announced via Facebook that Mehleb had backtracked on his decision.
He added: "Now according to the prime minister it seems a new minister will be appointed from among the leading figures at the culture ministry."