“I know what it’s like to be innocent and stay in prison.” This is exactly what Senator Liliana Segre said a few weeks ago, explaining her adherence to the campaign for Italian citizenship to Patrick George Zaki and collecting in a single glance the persecution she survived yesterday and the violations of human rights that the world still today fails to banish. Because Patrick, the Egyptian student from the University of Bologna that the judges of the Mansura court will release after almost two years in prison pending the perhaps definitive hearing on February 1st, is innocent. Liliana Segre is right. The accusation of having attacked the security of the state by spreading false news through three articles on the discrimination of Coptic Christians is as serious (provides, if all goes well, up to 5 years in prison) as it is inconsistent. It is enough to read those texts in no way dissimilar from what has been published on the subject in Arabic, English, Italian, since the last years of Hosni Mubarak, to understand how the complicated condition of the Coptic minority in Egypt is anything but a mystery in those parts. . We are talking about a large slice of the population (between 12 and 15%) partially integrated at very high levels (such as the telecommunications tycoon Naguib Sawiris) and marginalized on the edge of the ghetto for most, by the muddy villages targeted by the jihadists of the Highlands. Egypt to the very poor inhabitants of al Muqattam, the city of waste not far from the Cairo Citadel, those who made a living from the pig farm before the swine flu of fifteen years ago unleashed the fury of the Muslim majority against them. to the widespread elimination of livestock, of work, of the social space from which today’s ghosts are excluded (Christians are the only ones who can sell alcohol and eat the unclean pig, shady backroom figures where often, however, with the collar of their coat relieved and circumspect, the most devout of Islam devotees go shopping).
In short, Patrick George Zaki has not written anything particularly destabilizing or unpublished. And he didn’t do it not only by dealing with the Copts, he didn’t even do it in the Facebook posts published in September 2019, a couple of cautious relaunches to the sporadic demonstrations of that hot autumn, the sans-culottes with empty stomachs in the square responding to the appeal to the revolt of the obscure exiled businessman Mohamed Ali while the bourgeoisie beheaded by the regime gasps, bloodless, macerating in the stomach and head the defeat of 2011 and 2013. They arrested him for this, three articles, a repost generic, nothing surprising in Egypt which for at least six years has been burning its best youth amidst silence, prison, the diaspora. Even the part-time engagement with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights association for human rights is not enough to explain the fate of Zaki, the current director of EIPR Hossam Bagat was also arrested but, fortunately, released a long time before . Yet it is a lot of stuff, even Egypt knows it. Because Patrick George Zaki has really remained in prison so far, amidst repetitive referrals and rubber walls, where other activists with a similar profile have in the meantime been released. Because? An application suspended from 7 February 2020,
Now is the time to hope. Imagine Patrick – as Riccardo Noury of Amnesty International says – putting on his pajamas and going to bed, warm, soft, an exceptional normality to erase Tora’s bare stone. It will take time, time before he really comes out albeit with the obligation to sign, time before he hugs his parents and resilient sister Marise again, time before he hears the final sentence with his lawyers and then knows if it will be the end of a nightmare or the beginning of another. Italy has never let down its guard so far. Unexpectedly, in a difficult moment, between the pandemic and the economic crisis, the Italians have not forgotten this young Egyptian man who many would like to be a fellow countryman. Friends and professors have not forgotten, Amnesty has not done it, but neither have politicians, often on these somewhat distracted issues. The “operational silence” evoked by many, starting with Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, says without saying of this widespread attention. We don’t know if it will be enough, nobody knows. We do not even know if we can read a message in the unexpected release news (albeit partial, because Zaki is still under investigation and cannot leave Egypt), we do not know if there is really a light to be seen at the end of the next tunnel. two months. However, we know that something has moved, that the road is still long and the game is far from won, that we are going on. There are parallel planes that intersect in this story, many: now you have to keep an eye on that