Egyptians undertake restoration work at Luxor temple, in the ancient temple city on February 27, 2013
Egyptians undertake restoration work at Luxor temple on February 27, 2013. Luxor's new governor, a member of an Islamist party linked to a massacre of tourists in the famed temple city, has said he was quitting after his appointment triggered an outcry and the resignation of the tourism minister. © Khaled Desouki - AFP/File
Egyptians undertake restoration work at Luxor temple, in the ancient temple city on February 27, 2013
AFP
Last updated: June 23, 2013

Egypt's controversial Luxor governor quits

Luxor's new governor, a member of an Islamist party linked to a massacre of tourists in Egypt's famed temple city, on Sunday said he was quitting after his appointment triggered an outcry and the resignation of the tourism minister.

Adel al-Khayat told a news conference broadcast live on television that he had decided "to submit my resignation to Prime Minister Hisham Qandil" just a week after his appointment.

Khayat is member of the political arm of ex-Islamic militant group Gamaa Islamiya which had claimed responsibility for the massacre of 58 tourists in Luxor in 1997.

Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on June 16 named Khat along with 16 other new governors, including seven from his Muslim Brotherhood movement.

The nomination drew widespread criticism in Egypt, where opponents of Morsi have accused him of hijacking the 2011 uprising that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The appointment was seen as a blow to the once-lucrative tourism industry which has been struggling to recover after the uprising against Mubarak.

It prompted Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou to tender his own resignation last Wednesday, saying Khayat's nomination was an affront to the tourism industry. Qandil refused to accept the resignation.

Zazou has insisted he would continue to halt work "as long as the new governor remains in his post, greatly harming tourism in Egypt generally and Luxor specifically," the prime minister's spokeswoman, Rasha al-Azaizy, said last week.

Khayat belongs to the Construction and Development party, the political arm of Gamaa Islamiya which was blamed for a spate of attacks in the 1990s before it renounced violence.

A coalition of opposition groups, trade unions and tourism workers had threatened to close down all pharaonic temples and tourist attractions should Khayat remain in the post.

Luxor in southern Egypt, is an open-air museum of intricate temples and tombs of pharaonic rulers and landmarks such as the Winter Palace hotel where crime novelist Agatha Christie is said to have written her thriller "Death on the Nile."

Before the uprising against Mubarak, it attracted thousands of tourists annually, drawn by the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, and the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut -- scene of the 1997 massacre in which four tourist guards were also killed.

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