NASA rocket to bear name of Egyptian victim

Sally Zahran died after she was beaten on the head on Jan 28 with truncheons.

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2011, 11:44 AM IST

Cairo: The US` space agency NASA has okayed the naming of one of its spaceships after a young Egyptian woman killed in late January during an anti-government protest, according to Egyptian daily Al-Masry-al-Youm.

The paper quoted Essam Mohamed Haji, a young researcher at NASA, as saying on Thursday that he had received approval to put the young woman Sally Zahran`s name on a spaceship heading for Mars.

Zahran, an English graduate and translator, died after she was beaten on the head on January 28 with truncheons during clashes with security forces in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag. Anti-government protesters claim her killers were thugs in the pay of police.

"This is the least we could provide to Egyptian youth and revolutionaries. This step represents transferring the dreams of Egyptian youth from a small stretch of earth to the enormous expanse of space," Haji was cited as telling Al-Masri Al-Youm by phone from California.

Egypt on Friday entered the 18th day of unrest, with many thousands of people taking to the streets in the capital, Cairo and filling its central Tahrir Square.

Doctors, bus drivers, lawyers and textile workers were on strike in Cairo on Thursday, with trade unions reporting walkouts and protests across the country.

The protesters have vowed to keep up their revolt against President Hosni Mubarak, who they want to leave office immediately.

In a televised address on Thursday night, Mubarak refused to step down, but he reiterated that he would not run for elections.

Around 300 people have been killed in clashes with security forces and over 1,400 have been injured since the unrest began on January 25 against Mubarak, who took power in 1981 and whom they blame for widespread poverty, corruption and police brutality.