“Today I should have been at an important event for me: a meeting on the occasion of the launch of the Unesco chair in Global citizenship education on the role of universities in promoting global citizenship education for a more just and sustainable world “. Thus begins the post by Patrick Zaki, the Egyptian student enrolled at the University of Bologna who on 21 June suffered yet another postponement of the process , which prevents him from traveling and therefore from returning to Italy to resume his studies. He was unable to go to the meeting, he had to connect again from a distance. And the outburst entrusted to social networks is very hard. His profile meanwhile was hacked in Egypt.
“Unfortunately – he writes – I was unable to participate due to the repeated travel ban and the failure to complete my trial”. Patrick was imprisoned on February 7, 2020 in Cairo, after returning to his family for a few days after an exam, and detained for 22 months. Released only last December, he is still awaiting a sentence that does not arrive: from time to time the trial in Mansura is postponed, the last postponement was set for 27 September.
Accused of publications harmful to the interest of the Egyptian state, he has always proclaimed his innocence. He also reiterates it in the post: “I have not committed any crime”. And therefore, “I cling to my right to complete my master’s degree, to join my masters colleagues, attend classes and resume the rich and enjoyable discussions from which I had learned a lot. I aspire to finish my program and return to Egypt to complete. my research work “.
Patrick relates: “I have made more than one request to the Attorney General’s office and the officials in charge regarding my possibility of traveling with different requests so that I can continue my studies. Stopping me destroys my future or what remains of it. I still hope. to have the opportunity to participate in the next semester of studies in Bologna which begins at the end of August “.
Linked to the conference for the Unesco chair that was held today in Bologna, at Palazzo d’Accursio, Patrick Zaki launched an appeal: “European institutions and universities should do even more to defend their researchers from repression and humiliation they suffer around the world. There is not only my story, which also thanks to the support of the University of Bologna everyone knows, but there are many others like that of Ahmed Samir Santawi, of the University of Vienna, in prison since January 2021 “.
In the aftermath of the arrest, the researcher recalled, “I was accused of also being part of a terrorist group. This is the strategy that is adopted against any activist or scholar who expresses a point of view other than that of the government. I ask what is terrorist about studying gender or sexual minorities “.
The prisoner Zaki
by Carlo Bonini (editorial coordination), Francesca Caferri and Ilaria Venturi. Multimedia coordination by Laura Pertici. Gedi Visual production
Zaki’s appeal to protect all researchers who live in conditions similar to hers also stems from the awareness that “not everyone has been able to benefit from the great support and attention that my story has had”. In fact, the student thanks the University of Bologna and in particular some of its teachers, such as Rita Monticelli, for “supporting me every day, helping me concretely and asking me every day what I could use”. Zaki is also grateful to the university for reasons that transcend the contingent difficulties of his condition, and that lead him to think about the future. “It is here in Bologna that I learned the fundamentals of human rights and how to believe in these rights, and it is here that I listened to so many other researchers from all over the world, each with their problems and their attempts to overcome them. time to go back to Italy and Bologna where once my scholarship is over I will apply to continue my academic career “.