The province of Luxor will now be headed by Adel Asaad Al-Khayyat, a 52-year-old engineer and member of the Construction and Development Party, a political offshoot of the Salafist Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya movement.
Although the group renounced violence in 2003, it gained notoriety for its involvement in an attack on a historic site in Luxor five years earlier, which killed almost 60 foreign tourists.
Egypt’s president, Mohamed Mursi, announced the appointment of Khayyat along with 16 other new provincial governors on Sunday, seven of whom were drawn from the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party, which he symbolically resigned from upon becoming president.
In response to the appointment, workers in Luxor’s tourism industry, a cornerstone of the local economy, staged a protest outside local government offices on Monday morning, according to the Egypt Today newspaper.
Michael Wahid Hanna, a Middle East analyst at the Century Foundation, told the New York Times that the appointment was “amazingly tone-deaf to symbolism…. Everybody is interested in the process of normalization of these former militant groups into politics, but I think it is pretty audacious to appoint a Gama’a member to be governor of Luxor, of all places.”
The group has also made clear its disdain for what it sees as the immoral conduct of foreign tourists visiting Egypt. It previously issued guidance to its members advising them against working on the construction of hotels for tourists, according to the New York Times.
The decree said: “Because tourist villages have aspects that anger Allah, including alcohol, gambling and other forbidden things, building these hotels and villages is considered aiding their owners in sin and aggression, and is not permitted.”