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Egypt's Morsi criticized for reaction to tragedy

By Aya Batrawy and Maggie Michael

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27 2013 10:36 p.m. MST

Foreign tourists visit Hatshepsut Temple, in Luxor, Egypt, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Nineteen people were killed Tuesday in what appeared to be the deadliest hot air ballooning accident on record. The tragedy raised worries of another blow to the nation's vital tourism industry, decimated by two years of unrest since the 2011 revolution that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The southern city of Luxor has been hit hard, with vacant hotel rooms and empty cruise ships.(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Associated Press

LUXOR, Egypt — Some connected to the tourist trade in Luxor, a city utterly dependent on foreign visitors to survive, seethed with anger Wednesday at the country's Islamist president for his silence over the Tuesday sightseeing balloon crash that killed 19 tourists.

Mohammed Morsi has yet to publicly speak about the tragedy — and some here took that not just as insensitivity to the victims' families but as indifference to the vital tourism trade.

"Morsi should have taken a plane and come here," said Salah Zaky, one of the owners of the five-star Steigenberger Hotel in Luxor. "The whole world is watching and he is asleep. It's as if there is no government."

Morsi spoke by telephone to Luxor's governor to discuss the balloon disaster, according to state media. Hours after the crash, he spoke live on TV at a meeting with political leaders — but only about upcoming parliamentary elections, without mentioning the crash.

"They don't care if this hotel closes. They only care about the ballot box," Zaky said, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, the fundamentalist group from which Morsi hails and which has dominated all elections held since Mubarak's ouster.

— Associated Press

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