Tourism coalition denounces Salafist threat to demolish pyramids

Dalia Farouk, Monday 12 Nov 2012

Egyptian tourism coalition threatens to sue President Morsi over 'lack of response' to Salafist leader's statement they would destroy Pyramids and Sphinx as they did Buddha statues in Afghanistan

(Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's Coalition to Support Tourism (CST) said it will file a case against top Egyptian officials for inaction in response to statements by a Salafist sheikh who called for the demolition of the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

In a television interview on Saturday night, radical Salafist scholar Morgan El-Gohary called for the destruction of Egypt's monuments as they "were once worshipped and could be worshipped again."

El-Gohary, a Salafist Jihadist leader in Egypt, fought with the Taliban movement in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

During the television programme, aired on privately owned Dream TV2 channel, El-Gohary recounted proudly how he participated in the blowing up of the Buddha statue in Afghanistan in 2001 with the Taliban.

"We will demolish the pyramids and the Sphinx like we did with Buddha," El-Gohary said.

For his part, Ihab El-Badry, head of the Coalition to Support Tourism, told Ahram Online that the official response to El-Gohary's statements was not "decisive."

"We will wait until tomorrow for an official response, but afterwards we will sue President Morsi, the Prime Minister and the ministers of tourism and monuments," El-Badry explained.

He added that such statements have a devastating effect on Egypt's already struggling tourism industry.

"International media picked up these statements up and this will negatively affect tourism and the Egyptian economy in general," El-Badry added.

The United Kingdom's Independent is one such newspaper that picked up the story.

The fate of Egypt's tourism sector, which depends mainly on beaches and Egypt's antiquities, was hotly debated as Islamists ascended to power.

Officials from both the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the government, however, gave assurances that such forms of tourism would not be affected by the new administration.

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