Luxor governor reassures nervy tourism sector

Ahram Online, Wednesday 19 Jun 2013

New governor of Luxor, a member of an Islamist group accused of killing scores of tourists in 1997, says he will keep governorate 'tourist friendly'

EL-Khayat
Screenshot showing new Luxor governor Adel El-Khayat being sworn in

The new governor of Luxor, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Adel El-Khayat, has sought to reassure Egypt's tourism insiders following criticism of his appointment by Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou.

Luxor relies heavily on tourism and is considered one of the world's largest open-air museums.

On Tuesday, Zaazou expressed deep misgivings over President Mohamed Morsi's appointment of El-Khayat, a member of the group accused of killing at least 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians in a terrorist attack in Luxor in 1997.

El-Khayat said he had not been involved in any violence committed by Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya.

He said he would welcome Iranian tourists to Luxor because their intention would be to view historical sites, not to spread Shia Islam.

El-Khayat, who spoke on Monday to satellite channel Al-Hayat, denied Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya was responsible for the infamous 1997 Luxor attack.

“The Luxor massacre was committed by unknown assailants who sheltered in Egypt’s remote mountains. Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya was not responsible [for the massacre],” El-Khayat said.

The 52 year old claimed the group's formation of a political party, the Building and Development Party, proved it had renounced violence and was committed to democratic politics.

“I was working as an engineer in Upper Egypt’s development body and I've ever left my birthplace, Sohag [around 470km south of Cairo],” El-Khayat said in response to reports that he had lived abroad in an Arab country. 

 

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