Abdel-Halim Moussa, 73, a former Egyptian interior minister who advocated a conciliatory approach toward Islamic insurgents, died of cancer Saturday in a Cairo hospital.
Moussa was interior minister from 1990 to 1993, when Islamic extremists were waging a violent campaign to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and replace his regime with strict Islamic rule. Moussa replaced Zaki Badr, who had advocated killing the radicals, which had only increased hostility between the militants and police.
In a tactical about-face, Moussa opened a dialogue with the militants and earned the title of “the sheik of Arabs,” a title given to a tribal leader who presides over conciliation meetings.
Mubarak fired him in 1993, however, after opposition newspapers claimed the meetings demonstrated weakness in the government’s handling of terrorism.
Moussa graduated from the police academy, worked as a director of public security and served as governor of the southern province of Assiut.