Category: Egypt

Freedom for Patrick Zaki, an article by David Garyan

Ravenna, Italy


The Case of Patrick Zaki and Giulio Regeni

Freedom for Patrick Zaki

It’s been over half a year since Patrick Zaki, an Egyptian graduate student at the University of Bologna, was arrested in his home country in early February. After enduring human rights violations for months and going through arduous legal proceedings, Zaki was at last given permission to see a family member on August 25th—his mother.

Although the 27 year old has committed no crime, both abroad and at home, the Egyptian state has handed down various charges, accusing him of disseminating fake news and attempting to incite protests without permission. His defense team has argued that these accusations are unfounded.

According to Amnesty International, Zaki’s family only received “two short letters” out of the twenty he had sent to them. The Italian newspaper il Post has likewise reported that although he’s generally in good health, he has lost weight and is worrying about the future of his studies, asking how long he will be unjustly detained. The photo below is a recent one from the Patrick Libero Facebook page.

Every picture of Zaki before his arrest certainly depicts a happier individual and what else do we expect when there isn’t yet the potential 25 year sentence hanging over him? Let’s hope for the best and pray that the Egyptian government finds the good sense to release this innocent young man very soon.

Amnesty International is working hard to gather 118,000 signatures in order to try and secure his freedom; thus, signing the petition will not only prove to be an act of tremendous help for Zaki’s legal team but the gesture would most certainly also boost Patrick’s morale and that of his family. The petition can be accessed on the official Amnesty International page, and as of today, it’s only 638 signatures short, with 117,362 already having been collected.

Thank you to all who’ve given their time to make this goal possible.


About David Garyan

David Garyan has published three chapbooks with Main Street Rag, along with (DISS)INFORMATION, a full collection with the same publisher. He holds an MA and MFA from Cal State Long Beach, where he associated himself with the Stand Up Poets. He is currently studying International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage at the University of Bologna. He lives in Ravenna.


“The Case of Patrick Zaki and Giulio Regeni,” an article by David Garyan

The Case of Patrick Zaki and Giulio Regeni

February 19th, 2020
Ravenna, Italy


On the 3rd of December I attended a conference entitled “International Cooperation and the Evolving Shapes of Global Governance: Peace, Development and Humanitarian Assistance.” The conference was organized by a professor from our curriculum (International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage) and held at the University of Bologna – Forlì Campus.

One of the students in attendance that day was Patrick Zaki, a 28 year old Egyptian national and current graduate student in gender and human rights studies at the University of Bologna. Although I did not speak to him, I realized that Patrick was an articulate and intelligent individual when he put forth a difficult question to a panelist, concerning the underlying political motivations that are inherent to NATO aid—things which are rarely discussed by the Western media, much less the organization itself.

The fact that much of this aid had more to do with deterring communism—rather than actually “helping” developing countries in the Cold War, along with countering Russia’s global influence in the present day cannot, of course, be denied by sensible scholars, but it must be denied at a conference in which one of the panelists in attendance is not an academic, but an employee of NATO. Newly declassified documents reveal that the USSR was given repeated assurances by NATO that it would not expand past Germany, a promise which has been broken multiple times.

“So it goes,” Billy Pilgrim famously said—an expression of utter resignation to the world. Perhaps, however, this is all beside the point. The actual charges brought against Patrick are the following: dissemination of fake news; attempting to stir up protests without permission; and exploiting social media for negative purposes. Naturally, the charges are serious and could bring a long prison sentence in a country like Egypt.

Italian authorities are especially concerned because of another unfortunate event which happened roughly four years ago: The case in question concerns an Italian national and doctoral student, Giulio Regeni, whose mutilated body was found on the side of the highway in 2016; Regeni had been carrying out sensitive research on trade unions and this was seen as the main reason for his murder; thus far, however, Egypt has stonewalled the investigation and no concrete answers as to why Regeni (pictured left) was murdered have been given by Egypt.

Reports from the Italian government indicate that Zaki was interrogated about his activities in Italy and possible connection to Regeni; authorities, thus, fear a repeat of 2016.

There is documented evidence that Zaki did speak about the Regeni case during his time as a human rights activist and researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EPIR). In an August 30th, 2018 Dire article by Alessandra Fabbretti entitled, “Egitto, l’attivista Zaki: ‘Macché stabile, qui la povertà aumenta,’” Zaki criticized the human rights violations in Egypt and said that activists continuously face great threats inside the country, criticizing the way Egypt handled the Regeni case.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called for Patrick’s immediate release. A protest is being planned by the students of International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage with support from Amnesty International to demand the immediate release of Patrick Zaki. The city of Ravenna has graciously agreed to provide permits which will allow the event to be held in Piazza del Popolo, the city’s main square, on the 21st of February.

A petition has also been created by Amnesty International to help Patrick get through this ordeal and hopefully allow him to resume his studies at the University of Bologna. Additionally, the family of Giulio Regeni has likewise called on Italy to do more with regard to securing the release of Patrick Zaki.

Please take a moment to sign the petition here.


About David Garyan

David Garyan has published three chapbooks with Main Street Rag, along with (DISS)INFORMATION, a full collection with the same publisher. He holds an MA and MFA from Cal State Long Beach, where he associated himself with the Stand Up Poets. He is currently studying International Cooperation on Human Rights and Intercultural Heritage at the University of Bologna. He lives in Ravenna.



Video/ #MeToo in Egypt: Abused women speak out – BBC News

Video/ #MeToo in Egypt: Abused women speak out – BBC News.

Many women in Egypt suffer sexual harassment and abuse on daily basis. Research by UN Women published in 2013 found that 99% of Egyptian women had been sexually harassed, either verbally or physically. As the #MeToo campaign has gained traction around the world, Egyptian woman have also begun to speak more openly about harassment and abuse – although in some cases this can result in them being disbelieved, blamed, or even suffering further abuse. Five women shared their stories with BBC Arabic. Producer: Sara Aboubakr. Visual Artist: Ismail Moneers.

Video/ Speaking Out for LGBT Youth in Egypt

Video/ Speaking Out for LGBT Youth in Egypt.

Omar Sharif, egyptian actor, model and LGBT rights activist takes the audience back to one of the hardest moments of his life; writing and sending a letter that would change his whole world because it held a secret he had kept all his life. Omar grew up in an Egypt that choked people’s freedom socially, politically and religiously, making it very strict towards those who don’t fit into the category of “normal”. Coming from a famous family, he was able to work as a model and actor, and do whatever he wanted professionally, yet he felt invisible. “This is something that I kept hidden because this is something that didn’t fit into the Egypt that I knew; the Egypt that scoff at human rights and persecuted people who are different. Being Gay in Egypt means living in constant fear.” Sharif shares some real cases of human rights abuses towards gay men that turned out to be fake in his country, but that installed fear and hate. Feeling isolated, he found comfort in Hollywood movies and series that showed there was a gay community out there. “It was a formative and fragile time for the country and I knew that it was time that I have to finally settle my internal struggle and add my voice to those calling for an open, tolerant and inclusive Egypt.” He also talks about the responsibility that comes from being a public figure, having a voice and using it for good. Omar describes the negative reactions of people towards his letter and how later he received positive comments that motivated him to keep fighting. He understood that his actions were changing realities for good, around the world. Even though the situation has improved in some places, in Egypt it has regressed and silence continues to be the safest option, but Omar encourages the audience to make a change by inspiring others with their story, just as he did it.