News / Middle East

Islamist Governor Promises Safety for Luxor Tourists

Tourism workers and activists in Luxor protest newly appointed Islamist governor Adel Mohamed al-Khayat and block his office, June 18, 2013.Tourism workers and activists in Luxor protest newly appointed Islamist governor Adel Mohamed al-Khayat and block his office, June 18, 2013.
x
Tourism workers and activists in Luxor protest newly appointed Islamist governor Adel Mohamed al-Khayat and block his office, June 18, 2013.
Tourism workers and activists in Luxor protest newly appointed Islamist governor Adel Mohamed al-Khayat and block his office, June 18, 2013.
Reuters
— Sixteen years ago, Adel Mohamed al-Khayat was a member of the militant group, al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, blamed for slaughtering 58 tourists in Egypt's Valley of the Queens; today he's promising to keep visitors safe.

Khayat's appointment by President Mohamed Morsi as governor of the city of Luxor has triggered howls of protest, with demonstrators protesting for a second day on Tuesday and one critic calling it 'the last nail in the coffin of tourism.'

In a telephone interview with Reuters, however, the 60-year-old governor declared, “Luxor is open to all tourists from all over the world. They are my main concern and are looked after by the state, which is responsible for their security and their wellbeing.”

Khayat was a member of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, the movement whose gunmen carried out the 1997 massacre at the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor. Sixty-two people died, all but four of them foreigners, in an attack designed to cut off tourist revenue to the government of then-President Hosni Mubarak.

Khayat said he had joined the group in 1975, when it first emerged on university campuses, but denied any role in its militant past. He said his activism was restricted to taking part in university seminars, and he had worked as a civil servant at the housing ministry since 1986.

Khayat's appointment points to deepening ties between the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, one of several hardline Salafi parties that have moved into the mainstream since Mubarak was toppled in 2011.

'Best image'

The dominance of Islamists has raised concerns among their opponents about the fate of Egypt's pharaonic temples, deemed un-Islamic by hardliners. But Khayat said he was proud of the country's ancient heritage.

“God willing, the temples will remain as they are and we will work on cleaning them, protecting them and lighting them so that they are in the best image and no one will be able to harm them,” he said. “They are great monuments.”

Asked about his views on alcohol consumption, an important issue for the local economy as it seeks to draw in visitors, he said: “I have no intentions that would harm tourism.”

Tourism workers, remembering the heavy blow to their livelihood from the Luxor massacre, protested outside the governor's office for a second day, though Khayat has yet to arrive there. The industry has been hit by falling visitor numbers in the two years since the revolution.

“His extremist background will surely affect tourism,” said Wael Ibrahim, head of the Luxor tour guide association, told Reuters by phone. “International newspapers wrote about this... For sure this will lower tourism levels significantly.”

Sarwat Agami, head of another Luxor industry association, said the appointment had “hammered the last nail in the coffin of tourism in the historic tourist city”.

Al-Gamaa al-Islamiya was implicated in the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat and waged an armed insurrection against the state in the 1990s. It had ties to al-Qaida, and its spiritual leader is jailed in the United States over a plot to blow up the World Trade Center.

It renounced violence more than a decade ago, and set up a political party after the fall of Mubarak. Khayat said he had resigned from the party after his appointment this week.

The Muslim Brotherhood has described him as an “excellent choice,” saying al-Gamaa al-Islamiya's community ties will help improve law and order in the area.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid