Egypt to Change Street Named After Ottoman Leader Amid Growing Tensions with Turkey

Published March 21st, 2018 - 10:01 GMT
Crowded main street in Cairo (AFP/File Photo)
Crowded main street in Cairo (AFP/File Photo)

Local Cairo authorities plan to rename a main street that has for decades borne the name of a 16th century Ottoman ruler, amid growing tensions between Egypt and Turkey.

Cairo Governor Atef Abdul Hamid has disclosed the plan to change the name of Selim I Street, which connects four districts in the eastern part of the city. The planned change comes in response to a suggestion by a history professor, according to Abdul Hamid.

Selim I ruled the Ottoman Empire for eight years until 1520. In 1517, he invaded and seized Egypt after he defeated the country’s then ruling Mamelukes in a battle in which thousands were killed.

After that, Egypt became a province of the Ottoman Empire and remained so until the First World War in 1914.

“It is not appropriate to name a street after Egypt’s first coloniser,” said Mohammad Al Dali, the modern history professor, who proposed renaming the Selim I Street. “This sultan stripped Egypt of its independence and turned it into a dominion of the Ottoman Empire,” Al Dali told private television Ten.

“He killed thousands of Egyptians while they were defending their country and disbanded the Egyptian army.”

In 1914 Britain declared Egypt a British protectorate, ending the Ottoman Empire’s sovereignty over the country.



“The Egyptian state changed names of many streets after the 1952 revolution,” Al Dali said, referring to the toppling of monarchy in Egypt by a group of army officers led by Jamal Abdul Nasser.

“But the authorities at the time did not notice the existence of the Selim I Street.”
The street, which stretches from the district of Al Zeitoun to that of Ain Shams, is believed to have been named after Selim I since the second half of the 19th century.
The proposed renaming of the street comes on the 500th anniversary of the Ottomans’ conquest of Egypt.

Cairo authorities have said the new name will be chosen after they conduct “community dialogue” with the local residents.

“A committee affiliated to the governorate and responsible for naming names of Cairo streets is working on selecting an appropriate name for the Selim I St in cooperation with local residents,” said Mohammad Ayman, the deputy Cairo governor.

The committee comprises history professors, education specialists and Cairo local council members.

Ayman added in a statement that the area’s inhabitants will be surveyed on the new name for the street. The final name will have to be approved by the Egyptian government before it goes into effect.

No specific date has been set for announcing the new name.

The official denied the move was politically motivated, citing previous suggestions to change names of streets in Cairo that bear names of foreigners, who were hostile to Egypt.

“It is likely the new name of the [Selim I] street will be that of a martyr from the army or police forces,” Ayman said.

Egypt has seen a spate of deadly militant attacks mainly targeting security forces since the army’s 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following enormous protests against his one-year rule.

In February, Egypt started a major military campaign against extremists, mainly in Sinai and the western border with troubled neighbouring Libya.

Relations have strained between Egypt and Turkey since Mursi’s ouster. Turkey is a staunch backer of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which is designated as a terrorist organisation in Egypt.

In response, Egyptian TV stations have stopped airing popular Turkish soap operas amid calls for boycotting Turkish products.

Tensions have recently mounted between Cairo and Ankara after Turkey objected to a maritime border demarcation that Egypt signed with Cyprus in 2013.

Turkey also said it is planning exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a move that comes after Egypt’s discovery of a giant gas field in the area under its pact with Cyprus.

Egypt has warned against violation of its rights in the eastern Mediterranean, saying any such attempt would be “confronted”, a warning seen aimed at Turkey.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

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