Arrest warrants issued for striking bazaar workers in Egypt's Luxor

Ahram Online, Monday 11 Mar 2013

Move comes despite reports that local authorities in Luxor had met most of striking bazaar workers' demands

Hatshepsut Temple
Foreign tourists visit the Hatshepsut Temple, in the ancient southern city of Luxor (Photo: AP)

The public prosecution office in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor on Sunday issued arrest warrants for ten leaders of an ongoing strike by local bazaar workers that led to the temporary closure of the city's key historic sites last week.

The move followed an official complaint lodged by city governor Ezzat Saad with Luxor's prosecutor-general.

For three consecutive days last week, thousands of bazaar workers blocked the road leading to the Luxor's Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut Temple.

The move temporarily disrupted tourist activity, with tour buses being forced to turn back and tourism agencies cancelling scheduled trips to the famous sites.

Striking bazaar workers' demands include lower rents for their shops, exemptions on paying overdue rent and judicial pardons for Karnak bazaar owners who have defaulted on rent payments.

By Sunday, when the arrest warrants were issued, local authorities had met most of the strikers' demands, according to Al-Ahram's Luxor correspondent Iman El-Hawary.

Authorities agreed to drop all outstanding lawsuits against bazaar workers who had defaulted on rent payments and granted all of them exemptions from paying rents this year.

Tourism in the city, which has suffered a sharp decline in recent months due to nationwide political unrest, was dealt a further blow late last month when 18 foreign tourists were killed in Egypt's worst-ever hot air balloon accident.

Bazaar workers who have been summoned by local authorities, including Luxor Bazaar Owners Association head Bakry Abdel-Gelil, have yet to be questioned , El-Hawary told Ahram Online on Monday. 

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