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Opinion: Jon Stewart for Luxor governor | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A man smokes a water pipe as he watches Jon Stewart on a TV screen at a coffee shop, in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP)

Comedy can predict the future and be bitterly critical.

On the same day Jon Stewart, the US satirist and TV host, told us on Bassem Youssef’s Albernameg television show that Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi has appointed him as the governor of Luxor and that he had grown his beard to resemble members of the Muslim Brotherhood, we read in Asharq Al-Awsat leaks from Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya leadership that the new governor of Luxor, engineer Adel Al-Khayat, had offered his resignation to president Mursi after only a few days in office.

The new governor belongs to the group which committed a well-known massacre in Luxor in 1997, Egypt’s richest archaeological site, killing 58 tourists from Switzerland, Japan and other countries as well as Egyptian citizens.

The president’s decision to appoint a member of this group as Luxor governor is strange given the post’s sensitivity and the fact that the city’s economy is based on archaeological tourism, with people from countries around the world—mostly non-Arabs—visiting the city.

The decision came at a time when Egypt’s economy, particularly the sensitive tourism sector, is suffering from a loss of confidence. Hisham Zazou, the hard-working minister of tourism who is on a semi-impossible mission promoting tourism in Egypt, submitted his resignation to Hisham Qandil in a show of protest against this disappointing decision. However, the prime minister has refused to accept the minister’s resignation.

It is understood that allies are to be appeased with governmental posts and authority; and there is nothing wrong with this in the language of politics. What is strange is the nature of the post and the new governor himself who is inappropriate to the city’s cultural needs. I do not think the decision is a part of a Brotherhood plot to set a trap for the Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya which will fail in running tourism affairs in Luxor, as some are deluded to believe in a conspiracy-theory obsessed analysis. This appointment of the governor is a poor and hasty decision, one of the many decisions that characterize much of our Arab culture.

We do not appoint officials according to criteria of quality and proficiency but rather according to loyalty and personal interests. With the passage of time, posts have lost their value and titles become trivial.

Traditionally, appointment of advisors and ambassadors—in some countries even members of the senate—become a form of consolation prize. In some cases, opponents of culture are appointed in the field of culture and some who bear malice towards journalists and journalism are even appointed as information ministers! Most of the political and executive posts in the Arab world take the form of consolation prizes or a means to retain allegiance.

Up till now, only few fields remain unaffected by this generosity, such as health and banking sectors. In fact, even these have become marred by corruption.

It is a hopeless case!