Schools and streets in Cairo will be renamed after four police martyrs and certain symbols of the state, Galal Mostafa Saeed, the capital’s governor, announced on Wednesday, Egy News reported. This move, he said, was in honor of their memory and what they gave to protect the nation.
Three streets will also be renamed after state symbols, the governor added. The first, after Gaballah Ali Gaballah, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, while two nearby streets in Moqattam will be named after the 1970s dissident duo, musician Sheikh Imam and poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, who passed away in early December.
On the same day as the announcement that streets and schools would be renamed after fallen police personnel, three defendants accused of destroying a monument that the governor inaugurated were sentenced on Wednesday by Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanor Court to two years in prison on charges of violence and thuggery, privately owned daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi and Saeed together laid the first brick of what was to be a monument in the center of Tahrir Square “commemorating the martyrs of the two revolutions of January 25 and June 30,” on the eve of the second anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes between protesters and police forces, which left dozens dead.
Protesters commemorating both those battles and the violence that broke out on the one-year anniversary defiled the monument.
Mohamed El-Shahed, founder of the popular blog Cairobserver on urban space, described the monument as “a powerful act of denying memory.”
“Cities have long functioned as landscapes for the inscription of narratives, often national ones, usually by the state in the forms of naming/renaming and monument building, and always by the narratives of the ‘victors.’ Egyptian cities have been sites of forgetting and amnesia perhaps more than they have been inscribed with histories of great men,” he said to Mada Masr.
In comments on Tuesday, military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi described the Armed Forces and the police as “the country’s shields of defense.” Quoted on the official Facebook page of the military spokesperson Mohamed Ali, Sisi praised the national role the police played in securing the referendum.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said last week that National Police Day may be changed from January 25 to June 30, the day of mass protests against the rule of former President Mohamed Morsi.
Shahed said that these acts of remembrance of the police make clear that the regime views the past three years through a simplistic narrative of good and evil. “The ‘good’ martyrs (in uniform and with a monopoly on violence) get their names on schools belonging to one of the world’s lowest rated education systems and on dysfunctional streets with a failing transport system and a poor undemocratic municipal management system.”