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Luxor coalition threatens strike if governor does not go

Governor Adel El-Khayat, who hails from group responsible for 1997 massacre of Luxor tourists, hopes to 'restore Luxor's touristic status'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 18 Jun 2013
Luxor
Foreign tourists visit Hatshepsut Temple, in Luxor, Egypt Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 (Photo: AP)
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Political activists and Luxor tourism workers have announced they will close touristic sites in 'the world's largest open air museum' if the newly-appointed governor is not dismissed from office.

A number of political groups, syndicates, and tourism workers in Luxor released a statement on Tuesday opposing the appointment of Adel El-Khayat as governor because he is a leading member of the ultra-conservative Al-Gamma Al-Islamiya group.

The group was responsible for the infamous 1997 Luxor attack in which at least 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were killed.

The statement asserted that the 52-year-old El-Khayat is incapable of leading the governorate because of his "[fundamentalist] religious background," adding that they will prevent him from entering his office and assuming his post.

El-Khayat, appointed along with 16 other governors by President Morsi on Sunday, said on Tuesday that his top priority is to make Luxor an international "tourist capital," emphasising that he is keen on reviving the city's tourist activity.

He added that he has a vision for Luxor, which he hopes to implement with the help of existing touristic institutions.

The governor also stated that he is willing to travel anywhere in the world to "restore Luxor's touristic status," adding that he will work hard to solve the city's current problems.

On Monday, dozens gathered outside El-Khayat's office protesting his appointment.

An official Luxor governorate source, who spoke to Ahram Online on the condition of anonymity, said that protesters had raised placards reading: "We don't want terrorists" and "The government has replaced an ambassador with a terrorist."

In addition to the 1997 Luxor attack, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya was also implicated in the 1981 assassination of President Anwar El-Sadat, for which El-Khayat was detained for one year without charge.

The group formally renounced violence in the immediate wake of the Luxor attack. Following Egypt's 2011 popular uprising, which forced the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, the group established its political arm under the Building and Development Party 

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