Egypt begins campaign to remove Brotherhood street names

Changing street names is only a small part of the measures Egypt is taking to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood's presence and influence.
Sunday 04/11/2018
A street sign that bears the name of “Hassan al-Banna,” who founded the Muslim Brotherhood. (Al Arab)
Cul de sac. A street sign that bears the name of “Hassan al-Banna,” who founded the Muslim Brotherhood. (Al Arab)

CAIRO - Egypt is changing the designations of streets named for leaders and historical figures of the Muslim Brotherhood, another step in the government’s crackdown on the Islamist movement.

“Our streets must be named after people who made real contributions to our country,” said Qassem Hussein, the governor of Minya province.

Hussein ordered a street renamed for Omar Ibn al-Khattab, who was a companion of Prophet Mohammad. The street had been known as “Hassan al-Banna,” who founded the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hussein asked province officials to substitute other streets that carry Brotherhood names in the province with names of policemen and army personnel killed in Egypt’s war on terrorism.

Brotherhood affiliates have attacked state institutions, churches and police stations and killed dozens of policemen. Brotherhood-linked militias have claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in which civilians were killed.

An Egyptian court banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. In September, the government seized the funds and the assets of hundreds of Brotherhood businessmen to cut off financing for suspected Brotherhood violent activities.

“Action in this regard (renaming streets) is enough to remove the Brotherhood from public memory forever,” said Ahmed Ban, a specialist in Islamist movements. “Day by day, this movement will become a very small, although painful, detail in Egypt’s extended history.”

The Egyptian Ministry of Local Development, which oversees the work of the municipalities, reportedly started a survey of streets carrying the names of Brotherhood figures and leaders. The ministry will order the street names changed.

In Beheira province, Governor Hisham Amna ordered name changes for two streets, one of which was named after Brotherhood theoretician Sayyid Qutb, an important intellectual reference for terrorist organisations. He was executed after being convicted of plotting the assassination of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The change of the street names is only a small part of the measures Egypt is taking to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood presence and influence.

The Administrative Court, which rules in disputes between the government and the public, upheld a decision by the Foreign Ministry to remove an employee after it was proved he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The court also ordered the firing of a police officer who established contacts with Brotherhood members and affiliates. That decision is seen as allowing for additional removal of Brotherhood members from state institutions.

In approving the removal of the Foreign Ministry employee, the court said the man’s membership in a movement that works to destabilise Egypt and sabotage the work of its institutions was a breach of honour and contradicted the nature of his job.

Egypt’s Civil Service Law, which regulates the work of more than 5 million civil servants, allows them to keep their jobs if they do not commit crimes that breach their honour.

The removal of Brotherhood affiliates from state institutions is generally supported in the Egyptian parliament, where many lawmakers have called on the government to take even tougher action against the Islamist movement and its members.

Changing the names of streets called after Brotherhood figures, the lawmakers say, sends a strong message about the rejection of the presence of this movement in their life.

“Egyptians want to read the names of those who sacrificed their lives so that this country can continue to be a state,” said lawmaker Abdel Rehim Ali. “Naming the streets after killers and terrorists is the last thing the people want to see.”