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Egypt Violence Builds After Mursi Names Islamist Governors (1)

June 20, 2013

Violence Builds in Egypt Over Mursi Naming Islamist Governors

Smoke rises from tires set on fire by demonstrators protesting against the appointment of Adel El-Khayat Adel, a member of the onetime militant group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, as governor of Luxor. Photographer: Stringer/AFP via Getty Images

Employees of an Egyptian tourism trade group threatened to resign in protest amid renewed clashes in parts of the country today over President Mohamed Mursi's latest appointment of Islamists to key positions.

Discontent with Mursi, who marks a year in power at the end of the month, is building up as critics plan protests on June 30 to call for early elections. They accuse him of failing to revive the economy while putting the interests of his Muslim Brotherhood allies ahead of the nation’s good.

Mursi’s appointment of eight Islamists as provincial governors touched off a wave of protests, with violence erupting earlier this week in some provinces. Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou resigned because one of the new governors belongs to a group linked to a deadly attack on a main tourist site.

“Mursi has been taking unilateral decisions that are shocking for the Egyptian people since he took office,” Emad Gad, deputy director of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo and a former lawmaker, said by phone. “These decisions have been fueling confrontations between his supporters and opponents.”

In Gharbiya province today, opposition groups surrounded a local state council office, denying the new governor access, the state-run Ahram Gate website reported.

Doctrine of Violence

Mursi supporters and opponents battled overnight in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura in Daqahliya province, while at least 25 were hurt in fighting in Kafr El-Sheik province, according to Ahram Gate.

The unrest is a result of the opposition that “adopts violence as their doctrine, having failed to win people’s confidence at the ballot box,” the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political arm, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The appointment of Adel El-Khayat, a member of the onetime militant group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, as governor of Luxor has generated the most uproar. The group claimed it carried out a 1997 attack on a famed Luxor temple that killed 58 foreigners and four Egyptians. It has since renounced violence.

The appointment could mean “the death of the tourism industry in Egypt,” the Egyptian Tourism Federation trade group said in a half-page advertisement in the Al-Ahram newspaper today. Its 130 employees threatened to resign over the appointments, spokesman Khaled El-Manawi was quoted as telling the Al-Shorouk newspaper.

Protests and sporadic violence have persisted in Egypt more than two years after the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, deterring investors as well as tourists and complicating the task of reviving an economy growing at its slowest pace in two decades.

A petition drive organized by the Tamarod or “Rebel” campaign has collected several million signatures calling for Mursi’s ouster, according to the group. Mursi’s supporters are planning demonstrations tomorrow to back the president.

To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Cairo at selwardany@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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