Patrick George Zaki is a human rights advocate who championed for the truth on the 2016 murder of a Cairo student Giulio Regeni.
On Wednesday, the Italian Senate voted to approve a proposal launched by two lawmakers with the intent of granting Italian citizenship to Egyptian activist Patrick George Zaki.
Zaki receives Italian citizenship
The Italian legislators were swayed by a petition that garnered over 200,000 signatures marking a one-year anniversary since the detention of Zaki. The public called for his support and immediate granting of Italian citizenship. On Wednesday, 208 senate members voted in favor of the decision, out of a 240 member body - none voted against it.
On the EIPR Facebook page, the senate called on the Italian government to “conduct necessary consultations” that will grant Patrick Zaki Italian citizenship and demand for their immediate release as a follow up on the development of his case sessions and conditions of detentions. They also require European-level human rights protections in countries where violations of human rights continue. Furthermore, the government will take initiative in the Group of Seven major countries which focus on the repression cases of political activists and other human rights defenders.
A campaign launched dubbed 100 Cities with Patrick was launched in appreciation of his role as a human rights defender. Over 50 Italian cities have granted Zaki honorary citizenship to their cities.
Patrick Zaki arrest and detention
Zaki was arrested by Egyptian authorities on the 7th of February when he arrived back from Italy where he resided and studied. The security forces held him incommunicado for a day where he was tortured before charges were made public. Zaki has been charged with calling for protests without seeking permission, spreading false news, and inciting violence and terrorism.
Zaki, aged 28, worked as a researcher on gender and sexual equality rights for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). He is also a human rights advocate seeking the truth on the 2016 murder of Giulio Regeni, an Italian student.
Italian politicians have stood in solidarity with Zaki's parents in demanding his immediate release. Meanwhile, human rights activists remain worried that Zaki might suffer the same fate Regeni Egypt’s notorious prisons could befall him. When he was interrogated, Regeni was asked several questions about his Facebook posts.
Intolerance in Egypt
Since 2013, Egypt has launched a brutal crackdown on dissent voices while jailing over 60,000 activists and imposing strict public disclosure measures. Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who led the 2013 coup, has denied the existence of political prisoners, calling it a fight against terrorism.
In November, three staff members of EIPR, Gasser Abdelrazek, the criminal justice director, Karim Ennarah, and Mohamed Basheer were detained and only released after a high-profile international campaign. The three had met with diplomates from the United States, France, and several other European countries that discuss human rights conditions. To date, EIPR’s assets have been frozen by Egypt’s public prosecutor.