Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Appointment of 17 new governors by Egyptian president Morsi met with severe criticism

Temple of Hatshepsut near Luxor. In 1997 62 people were killed here in an attack by the Gama'at al-Islamiyya.  The appointment of a leading member of this group as governor of Luxor raised many questions. 

The appointment on Sunday by President Mohamed Morsi of 17 new provincial governors, has been met with lots of criticism. Seven of the new governors are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which the president hails, including those appointed to the Nile Delta governorates of Gharbiya and Menoufiya. Many believe that Morsi while doing this had the possibility in mind of a mass uprising on 30 June, the anniversary of his coming to power. The opposition has called for demonstrations on that day and the Tamarod (rebel) campaign is going to present, as it says, 15 million signatures adhered to a demand that Morsi resign.
The appointment that drew most criticism, however, was the one whereby the 52-year old Adel El-Khayat was designated governor of Luxor. Al-Khayat is a leading member of the Gama'at al-Islamiyya, which Luxor in 1997 in which 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were killed.The group was also implicated in the 1981 assassination of president Anwar El-Sadat, after which El-Khayat was sentenced to one year in prison without a charge. In an ideological u-turn, the group renounced violence in the immediate wake of the Luxor attack. Following Egypt's 2011 popular uprising, which ended Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule, the group established the Building and Development Party as its political arm.
Tourism industry insiders voiced surprise and concern over Morsi's decision to assign the ultra-conservative El-Khayat to the top post in Luxor, considered one of the world's largest open-air museums. On Monday, dozens of residents gathered outside the governor's office to protest the move. An official Luxor governorate source told Ahram Online on condition of anonymity that protesters had raised placards reading: "We don't want terrorists" and "The government has replaced an ambassador with a terrorist." Luxor’s outgoing governor, Ezzat Saad, had formerly served as Egypt’s ambassador to Russia.
However, Reuters reported on Sunday that Morsi's supporters had defended El-Khayat's appointment, pointing out that Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya had successfully curbed crime in Upper Egypt, where the group is well integrated into the local tribal system. "They are the most capable force for guarding security in the Upper Egyptian provinces," said Mostafa El-Gheinemy, a member of the Brotherhood's authoritative Guidance Bureau. He went on to call El-Khayat's appointment an "excellent choice. It is impossible to exclude one faction, even if its history is bad, as long as they have rid themselves of these ideas," El-Gheinemy told Reuters.

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