Egypt tourism minister resigns over Luxor governor

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Egypt’s minister of tourism has resigned following the appointment of a new governor in the temple city of Luxor who belongs to an Islamist party linked to a deadly attack on tourists, state TV said Wednesday.

Hesham Zazou said that following the appointment of Adel al-Khayat -- a member of the political arm of ex-Islamic militant group Gamaa Islamiya-- he “cannot continue in his role as minister of tourism.”

Khayat’s nomination sparked fury across the tourism sector, a once-lucrative industry which has been devastated in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Prime Minister Hesham Qandil has refused Zazou’s resignation and asked him to remain in his post until the situation is reviewed, ministry spokeswoman Rasha al-Azaizy told the official MENA news agency.

But she said Zazou insisted he would not continue working “as long as the new governor remains in his post, greatly harming tourism in Egypt generally and in Luxor specifically”.

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.

Gamaa Islamiya claimed responsibility for an attack on a major tourist attraction in Luxor, in southern Egypt, that killed 58 foreign holidaymakers in 1997.

Khayat’s appointment came when President Mohamed Mursi replaced 17 of Egypt’s governors on Sunday.

Among the new appointees were members of the Muslim Brotherhood from which Mursi hails, in a move that expands Islamist control of key administrative positions.