As Egyptians demonstrated against him again on Friday, in preparation for big rallies on June 30, President Muhammad Morsi has shot himself in the foot with a series of ill advised appointments of provincial governors.
Morsi continues to demonstrate that he is politically tone deaf and that his decision-making takes place in a small circle of close advisers from his Muslim Brotherhood sect. He appointed 17 new governors on Sunday, several of them from the Muslim Brotherhood, and he put Adel Khayat over the province of Luxor. Khayat is from the former terrorist group, al-Gama’a al-Islamiya (The Islamic Grouping), which gave up violence about a decade ago.
The Gama’a is implicated in a horrific 1997 attack on tourists in … Luxor. Its members were trying to hurt tourism as a way of starving the government of Hosni Mubarak of money. (There is no reason to think Khayat himself was involved in that particular attack).
Locals in Luxor, who are suffering from a severe drop in Pharaonic tourism, were outraged at the appointment and have not let the governor enter his office. Morsi’s minister of tourism submitted his resignation over the affair.
Morsi’s appointments of Muslim Brotherhood figures over other provinces have also provoked demonstrations during the past week.
Morsi is facing an effort, called Rebellion (al-Tamarrud), to recall him or force him into early elections, by a coalition of leftist, liberal and centrist groups, who have gained millions of signatures during their petition drive. Rebellion is behind the planned June 30 protests.
When I was in Egypt in early June, I was given those petitions by several people, including by a pious elderly taxi driver.
Morsi is trying to gain the support of the Salafi hard right among the religious parties by appointing a Gama’a governor, at a time when many Salafis have joined the Rebellion petition drive against him.