Egypt is one of the world's original tourist destinations. People have been traveling there to see the wonders-- whether built by man or alien-- since the beginning of recorded time. Roland and I decided to spend a month there just after Thanksgiving, 1997. Egypt is usually overrun with tourists from around the world. But the month we were there, we basically had Egypt to ourselves (not counting the Egyptians). Luxor (ancient Thebes), with the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the Temple of Karnak, were especially empty. That's because just as we were leaving L.A. in November, a bunch of religionist fanatics slaughtered a busload of tourists from Switzerland or Austria and Japan. It was really a spectacular horror show with scimitar-wielding terrorists chasing unarmed tourists through the ruins and mercilessly slashing them to death. It was a bloody slaughter; 5 dozen were murdered. All the tourists left Egypt just as we were arriving. And they stopped coming (at for a couple weeks). I feel terrible for the Austrians and Japanese, of course; I mean what a way to go! But... well, Roland and I pretty much had Egypt to ourselves. I mean it was just us and the Egyptians, who, except for the scimitar-wielders, are an extremely generous, friendly and gracious people.
As for modern Luxor, the prosperity and the economy is almost entirely based on the steady influx of tourists from around the world. So when President Mohammed Morsi appointed a new governor of Luxor who was connected to the scimitar-wielding Gamaa Islamiya terrorists, the people of Luxor freaked out. The Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zaazou, resigned, saying the appointment would have "dire consequences" for tourism in Egypt. The new governor, Adel al-Khayat, is best known in Luxor as a member of Gamaa Islamiya, a group remembered for devastating the city's economy for several years. Demonstrations haven't been as reported on as the ones in Turkey and Brazil, but they were big and they were getting out of hand all last week. Some started calling for Morsi himself to step down.
Yesterday, there was some confusion over whether the new governor would step down or not. Rumors that Morsi had told him to forget the whole deal were denied on Saturday.
Khayyat told Turkish news agency Anadolu that he is not thinking about resigning, although he is currently in his hometown of Suhag, awaiting the outcome of recent events. “There will be no resignation Insha'Allah (God willing),” Khayyat said.But today he made it official; he resigned "to prevent bloodshed."
Senior figures from the group’s political arm, the Construction and Development Party, told the London based pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat earlier Saturday that Khayyat had resigned over mass protests demanding his ouster.
“Al-Khayat resigned so that people could realize that we are not interested in the job and are not clinging to it,” Construction and Development Party head Nasr Abdel Salam reportedly said.
...The governor failed to reach his office on Wednesday as angry protesters blocked the road to the governorate building, setting tires on fire. Residents, tourism sector employees, and secularist groups have all joined the demonstration.
Khayyat had postponed starting his work to “ensure everyone's safety,” according to Abdel Salam, and in fear of clashes between his opponents and supporters, after the latter have had to form a human shield around him to protect him.
"I discussed with my brothers from the Construction and Development party, and we agreed that I should present my resignation as Luxor's governor because we don't want bloodshed," he said in a statement. "We cannot accept the shedding of even one drop of blood for a position that we never wanted."
El-Khayat was one of the 17 provincial governors appointed last week by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. His appointment steered anger among tourism workers and activists in Luxor and hundreds of people have protested Morsi's choice outside the governor's office.
El-Khayat's party calls for strict implementation of Islamic Shariah law, which includes imposing an Islamic dress code for women, banning alcohol, and preventing the mixing of the sexes. Workers in a city as heavily dependent on tourism as Luxor worried that such policies would further hurt their business.
Officials of the Construction and Development party said on Sunday that el-Khayat's resignation decision was not made under pressure and that it showed the party's political maturity.
The party has in recent weeks emerged as a strong backer of Morsi against the opposition, which plans massive protests on June 30 to force him out of office. Leaders of the group have declared the protesters non-believers and have vowed to "smash" them on June 30, the first anniversary of Morsi's assumption of office as the nation's first freely elected leader.
UPDATE: I Hope You're Not In Egypt Today... Totally Unsafe
An American student was killed this weekend and millions of Egyptians have taken to the streets to try to oust Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, who have been overplaying their hand. This isn't just in Cairo's Tahrir Square. This is everywhere.
At least four people have been killed and nearly 200 wounded in clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, security and medical sources say.The are rumors that Morsi has fled from Cairo-- on the one year anniversary of his election victory. You don't want to be walking around in this:
All four dead were shot in Nile Valley towns south of Cairo, one in Beni Suef and three in Assiut. Across the country, the Health Ministry said, 174 people were given medical treatment as a result of factional fighting in the streets.
In Cairo and Alexandria, more than one million took to the streets on the first anniversary of Mursi's inauguration to demand that he resign.
Waving national flags and chanting "Get out!", a crowd of more than 200,000 had massed by sunset on Cairo's central Tahrir Square in the biggest demonstration since the 2011 uprising that overthrew Mursi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.
"The people want the fall of the regime!" they shouted, echoing the Arab Spring rallying cry that brought down Mubarak-- this time yelling it not against an ageing dictator but against the first elected leader in Egypt's 5000 year recorded history.
Many bellowed their anger at Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, accused of hijacking the revolution and using electoral victories to monopolise power and push through Islamic law.
Others have been alienated by a deepening economic crisis and worsening personal security, aggravated by a political deadlock over which Mursi has presided.
As the working day ended and 38 Celsius heat eased, more protesters converged through the eerily deserted streets of the shuttered city centre, while smaller crowds protested in several other areas of the capital.
The veteran leaders of Egypt's secular, liberal and left-wing opposition, including former chief of the UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei and leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, joined protest marches in Cairo.
A Reuters journalist said hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters marched through the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, Egypt's second city, and a military source reported protests in at least 20 towns around the country.