US media is reporting that Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi has appointed a member of Gamaa Islamiya, a US designated terrorist group, as governor of Luxor, a major tourist destination for foreign visitors and the site of a deadly terrorist attack by the very same group in 1997. According to a USA Today report:
June 19, 2013 CAIRO – Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi appointed a member of a United States-designated terrorist group as governor of a major touristic city this week, propelling more unrest in the deeply troubled and divided country.
The appointment risks further damage to tourism in Luxor, home to popular ancient sites including the prized Valley of the Kings, as some in the area have risen up in protest over new governor Adel Asaad Al-Khayat.
Al-Khayat comes from the political wing of Gamaa Islamiya, which carried out a horrifying attack on a morning in November 1997 at Luxor’s Temple of Hatshepsut, killing more than 60 people, many of them tourists.
The attack, one of many vicious assaults the group carried out in the 1990s, devastated the tourism industry for months afterward.
‘The person appointed as governor to Luxor is very controversial,’ said Egyptian political expert Khalil Al-Anani, who is currently in Cairo.
‘How can you appoint someone with this bloody history in a very important and strategic governorate like Luxor, which is one of the main (tourist) destinations in Egypt?’ he said. ‘This can worsen the tourism industry.’
On Wednesday, Egypt’s tourism minister Hesham Zazou resigned in protest over the Luxor appointment.
The uprising that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011 prompted many radical groups that had previously rejected political involvement to reconsider their position. Gamaa Islamiya renounced violence in 2003 and created the Building and Development Party, which won 13 out of 498 elected seats in the new parliament. The parliament was dissolved by court order.
Analysts said they expected Morsi, who rose from the Brotherhood, to appoint a number of Brotherhood figures as a continuation of its policy to expand its control over the country. But the reaction nationwide underscores the problems of a system where local officials are not elected but appointed, a system under Mubarak that Morsi has retained.
Tower.org is reporting that clashes in Egypt erupted following the announcement of the appointments, said by the report to have been triggered by “renewed fears that Morsi was working to consolidate the authority of hard-line Islamists at the expense of civil liberties and the Egyptian economy.”
According an Associated Press report, , seven of the 17 new provincial governors appointed by Morsi are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, adding even more to the power of the Brotherhood in the Egyptian government.