CAIRO (AP) — An Islamist from a radical group named by President Mohammed Morsi as governor of Egypt’s ancient city of Luxor resigned on Sunday.
Adel el-Khayat is a member of the Construction and Development party, the political arm of the Gamaa Islamiya, which waged an armed insurgency against the state starting in 1992 and attacked police, Coptic Christians and tourists.
In November 1997, gunmen from the group attacked tourists at Luxor’s 3,400-year-old Hatshepsut Temple, killing 58. More than 1,200 people died in the campaign of violence by the group and another militant organization, Islamic Jihad.
In a brief statement read at a news conference on Sunday, el-Khayat said he decided to resign to prevent bloodshed, a reference to clashes between his supporters and opponents outside the governor’s office in Luxor.
“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.