News / Middle East

Luxor Governor Steps Down, Tensions Still High

A protester throws a chain next to a graffiti on the wall depicting the newly appointed governor of Luxor Adel Mohamed al-Khayat, as a terrorist, as protests gather in front of the governorate building to protest his appointment in Luxor, June 19, 2013.
A protester throws a chain next to a graffiti on the wall depicting the newly appointed governor of Luxor Adel Mohamed al-Khayat, as a terrorist, as protests gather in front of the governorate building to protest his appointment in Luxor, June 19, 2013.
Elizabeth Arrott
The controversial new governor of Luxor has resigned his post, as political jockeying continues ahead of mass protests across Egypt later this month. 

Luxor governor Adel al-Khayat announced his resignation Sunday, saying he never sought the post to begin with.

The Islamist politician, who hails from Gamaa Islamiya, the group held responsible for the 1997 massacre of 59 foreign tourists in Luxor, said he had consulted with the group's political wing before making his decision.

He said national interests transcend those of an individual or party, and that he wanted to prevent any bloodshed due to what he called a media campaign concocted against him.

Egyptians chant slogans during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt's president and his Muslim Brotherhood in Luxor, Egypt, June 19, 2013.Egyptians chant slogans during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt's president and his Muslim Brotherhood in Luxor, Egypt, June 19, 2013.
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Egyptians chant slogans during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt's president and his Muslim Brotherhood in Luxor, Egypt, June 19, 2013.
Egyptians chant slogans during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt's president and his Muslim Brotherhood in Luxor, Egypt, June 19, 2013.
Khayat's appointment last week infuriated tourism workers and others in the historic city of Luxor, who have already been hard hit by post-revolution unrest that has kept many foreign tourists away.  Khayat's opponents felt the symbolism of his being named, and his group's advocacy of strict Sharia law, would cause a further decline, prompting  raucous protests against him.

His posting was widely seen as a move by President Mohamed Morsi to bring other, sometimes rival Islamists to his side ahead of mass anti-government protests planned for later this month.

Morsi had defended his decision as late as Saturday.  In an interview in a state-owned newspaper, he said Khayat had never been linked to the Luxor massacre, and that while a suspect in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, he was acquitted.

Shortly afterward, the leader of Khayat's Construction and Development party called on the governor to resign “for the sake of Egypt.”
 
Gamaa Islamiya and Construction and Development party officials have expressed contempt for the anti-government protesters, and have vowed to carry out counter-actions. 

Security has been stepped up across the country ahead of the demonstrations.

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