Egypt’s tourism minister Hesham Zazou, has resigned a day after President Mohamed Morsi appointed a new governor to Luxor province from an Islamist party linked to a massacre of holidaymakers in the temple city.
Zazou said on Wednesday he “couldn’t continue in the role of tourism minister” after the appointment of Adel al-Khayat, a former member of the political arm of Islamist group Gamaa Islamiya.
Gamaa Islamiya claimed responsibility for the attack on a major tourist attraction in Luxor killing 58 foreign nationals in 1997.
Ministry spokeswoman Rasha al-Azaizy told the MENA news agency that the Prime Minister Hesham Qandil had refused to accept Zazou’s resignation and asked him to remain in his post until the situation is reviewed.
According to al-Azaizy, Zazou insisted he would cease to work “as long as the new governor remains in his post, greatly harming tourism in Egypt generally and in Luxor specifically”.
President Morsi named Khayat along with 16 other new governors on Sunday, including seven from his Muslim Brotherhood movement.
His appointment deals a blow to the once lucrative tourism industry struggling to recover after the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
In statements to the media, he said his first priority as governor would be to “ensure the return of tourists” to Luxor, the same city where his group killed 58 tourists in 1997.
But a coalition of opposition groups, trade unions and tourism workers has threatened to close down all Pharaonic temples and tourist attractions should Khayat remain in the post.
On Tuesday, clashes erupted in several cities of the Nile Delta following protests against the appointments, injuring 26 people.
The protests are the latest sign of polarisation in the country, pitting Morsi’s largely Islamist supporters against a wide-ranging opposition that accuses the president of failing the revolution that brought him to power.