Coptic Egyptian minister denies VP offer by Mursi

Christian Tourism Minister dismisses fears an Islamist president could harm tourism.

July 9, 2012 01:28
2 minute read.
Egyptian Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour

EGYPTIAN TOURISM Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour 390. (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)


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Egypt’s minister of tourism, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, denied on Sunday that newly elected president Mohamed Mursi has offered him the role of vice president.

Abdel Nour, a Coptic Christian politician and secretary-general of Egypt’s secular, nationalist and liberal New Waft Party, was appointed tourism minister last February.

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He told London-based, Saudi-owned Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat that comments in the Egyptian media about his possible candidacy for vice president were “rumors.”

Mursi has pledged several times to appoint Christians – who form around 10 percent of Egypt’s population – and women to senior posts in his new government. His policy adviser, Ahmed Deif, told CNN recently that one of the new president’s first steps will be to appoint a Christian vice president and another female vice president.

Despite those pledges, Egypt’s Coptic Christians have expressed fears that a Muslim Brotherhood president could result in more discrimination against non- Muslims. Abdel Nour, however, told Asharq Alawsat that concerns about an Islamist president were unfounded.

And while some figures in Egypt’s tourism industry have warned that an Islamist president could put tourists off visiting the country, Abdel Nour said Egypt will likely see a “massive boom” in tourism following Mursi’s election.

Tourism plays a vital role in Egypt’s economy and Mursi seeks to raise tourism revenue still further, according to Abdel Nour, by focussing on specific niches like ecotourism.

Egyptian tourism revenues peaked at $12 billion in 2010, before the Egyptian revolution, but Abdel Nour said figures could hit as high as $25b. in the next six months, Asharq Alawsat reported.

Abdel Nour said Egypt would see more tourists from Spain, Turkey and Kazakhstan, as well as from Russia and Eastern Europe and that the country’s cultural tourism in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan would experience a recovery.

Meanwhile, the Coptic minister’s comments regarding Egypt’s Islamist president come days after reports that Egyptian Coptic activists had moved to form a counterweight group to the Muslim Brotherhood – the Christian Brotherhood.

According to a report in Asharq Alawsat on Friday, one figure behind the movement is Cairo-based Christian human rights lawyer, Mamdouh Nakhla, who said the group may form its own political party.

Nakhla said that the new group will focus mainly on the demands of Egypt’s minorities, particularly Christians, but would “defend any oppressed group, not only Christians because we are not a racist group.”

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