The activist: «Egypt needs more openness and more freedom. I would like to meet the children who wrote to me and talk to them about human rights"
«When I was in prison, in the early days, I received letters from various Italian elementary schools. They were children who wrote to me to give me courage. The day I read them for the first time I was particularly down and their words warmed my heart, they gave me strength. I promised myself that I would thank them in person, sooner or later. As the first time I met Riccardo Noury, from Amnesty International, I asked him to take me to visit those schools, as soon as possible. I would like to talk about human rights to the children who consoled and encouraged me in such a dark moment because I am convinced that the culture of human rights, the concepts of diversity and inclusion, pass through education and, therefore, also through school". It is an unprecedented Patrick Zaki, the one who talks about children, including the children that "I will have too, and I will have many because I adore them". The appointment is in a bar in his area of him, the one of the university where he studied and graduated. He shows up with a friend and Reny, his girlfriend. We see him in the distance but he takes a while to arrive because he "stumbles" in greetings, handshakes, continuous "thanks", "welcome back" and assorted compliments. Mostly from unknown people.
He's a celebrity...
«As you can see, everyone greets me, stops me. It's a really great welcome. First a lady who must have been 80 years old came up to me and she touched my face. She told me "I can't believe you're here again, I'm so happy for you" ».
Is this also the case in your country, in Egypt?
«To be honest, I must say that in recent days, after the pardon, I have seen support for me grow enormously in my country, even on the political front. Much more than what has happened in recent years ».
The arrest in 2020 for having "spread false news" with an article on the Coptic minority; 22 months in prison; then forced to remain in Egypt pending the end of the trial; then sentenced to another 14 months in prison and finally the granting of pardon. A journey into the denial of human rights...
"Yes, it wasn't a walk in the park. But I, as I always say, was lucky because I had incredible support and in the end I made it. Now it's my turn to do my part, and I want to do it as a human rights activist and defender. It's my way, it's my future."
Have they already asked you for a commitment in politics?
"No. I still have a lot to learn and do. And even if a request for a political role came, I would always use it for the cause of human rights. Also all this visibility: I want it to become a tool, I want to use it to defend those who have no voice or face, and perhaps have been in a cell for years as a prisoner of conscience. It doesn't matter if in my country or elsewhere."
You said you will stay in Bologna for two weeks. Have you planned a stop in Rome in the political buildings of the Italian government?
«I have not received invitations so no, there is no such stop planned. Maybe I'll go to Rome to see Amnesty who invited me, I'll meet people who have to do with human rights. I still don't know what I'm going to do."
Do you think the controversy over the refused state flight is closed?
"Yes. For me she is closed. I have thanked the Italian government several times, as was right. I really appreciate the efforts made. What I don't want is for someone to tell me one day: you've been this way or that. I am and want to be independent. The only side I want to be on is human rights."
Do you have a message for the Egyptian government?
"Yes. That in my country we need more openness, more freedom. We must release the prisoners of conscience, we must give more space to civil society, to women, to journalists. I hope that many others may have the grace...».
She repeats that she wants to be a human rights activist and as you well know it is not a risk-free activity in her native Egypt. Aren't you afraid of a new arrest?
«I am not afraid because I am convinced that I have human reason on my side. And then, as I was saying, now everyone in Egypt knows me as well as here in Italy and perhaps this will help the cause and protect me a little from the risks».
Do you ever see yourself in the darkest days of prison and torture?
“I'm trying to look ahead and if I fall back into those days I won't be able to do it nor will I be able to help others. I look to the future and in these days in Bologna I am enjoying the happiness of a wonderful collective embrace".
About the future. Marriage to Reny?
"September 9, in Egypt."
We leave the bar. Thirty meters of «Welcome back», «Great Patrick»; «Good luck», «You are welcome». There is no doubt. His love for Bologna is reciprocated.
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July 25, 2023 (change July 25, 2023 | 07:12)
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