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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More