Once-armed Islamists talk tolerance by Egypt temple

Sat Apr 9, 2011 6:42pm GMT

* Gama'a meets followers, preaches tolerance, non-violence

* Group trying to re-establish role in post-Mubarak era

By Tom Perry CAIRO, April 9 (Reuters) - The Egyptian Islamist group al-Gama'a al-Islamiya preached non-violence and tolerance of tourism this week outside a pharaonic temple close to the Luxor site where its members massacred 58 foreigners in 1997.

The group which took up arms against the state in the 1990s and played in a role in Anwar Sadat's assassination in 1981, gathered followers by the Luxor Temple on Friday to espouse the peaceful activism it is pursuing in the post-Hosni Mubarak era.

The organisers had picked the location, by a mosque in the Luxor Temple complex, as a message to tourists "that there is no danger to their presence in Egypt", Sheikh Assem Abdel-Maged, one of the group's leaders, said in a telephone interview.

"Some tourists attended the meeting and took photos and there were some meetings with tourists," he said on Saturday.

The Gama'a al-Islamiya is one of the Islamist groups that has emerged from the shadows since Mubarak was ousted from power on Feb. 11, trying to re-establish itself in the new era.

Mubarak suppressed Islamists whom he saw as a threat.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.