Egypt's Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya denies involvement in 1997 Luxor massacre

News article, posted 06.19.2013, from Egypt, in:
Egypt's Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya denies involvement in 1997 Luxor massacre (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya group held a press conference on Wednesday at which it categorically denied involvement in the infamous 1997 Luxor massacre.

Wednesday's press conference was convened against the backdrop of a fierce public backlash against President Mohamed Morsi's appointment on Sunday of one of the group's leading members as governor of Upper Egypt's Luxor governorate.

The appointment of group member Adel El-Khayat as Luxor governor prompted howls of protest in the Upper Egyptian province, with demonstrations taking place for the third consecutive day on Wednesday.

Egypt's Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya group, of which the 52-year-old El-Khayat remains a leading member, was widely blamed for the infamous1997 Luxor attack in which at least 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were killed.

At a Wednesday press conference, however, the group categorically denied its involvement in the incident, asserting that Islam strictly forbade the killing of innocent people.

"El-Khayat has never been charged in any political case or imprisoned for a single day," group spokesman Khaled El-Sherif said. He slammed perceived attempts by some quarters to exclude the formerly-militant group from Egypt's political stage.

El-Sherif added that his group had reassessed its earlier policies and regretted its former resort to violent activity.

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya was also implicated in the 1981 assassination of president Anwar El-Sadat, after which El-Khayat was sentenced without charge to one year in prison.

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