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Christian Entity Faults Lengthy Detention of Egyptian Researcher, Demands His Release

Patrick George Zaki. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based human rights organization, is calling for the immediate release of Patrick George Zaki who has been detained by Egyptian authorities since February 2020. 

The Human Right activist and student at an Italian University was arrested in Egypt's capital, Cairo, for allegedly “spreading fake news inside and outside Egypt”.

This was after Mr. Zaki published the article, “Displacement, killing and oppression: The outcomes of a week of the daily life of Egyptian Copts” in which he describes his life as a Christian in the country. 

Mr. Zaki appeared before a State Security Misdemeanor Court on September 14 but his trial was postponed to September 28. 

In a September 20 report, CSW’s Founder President, Mervyn Thomas, says officials of the organization are “concerned at the delays to Patrick George Zaki’s trial and the unfounded charges against him.”

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The CSW President adds that Mr. Zaki’s 19-month detention goes against Article 143 of Egypt’s Code of Criminal Procedures, which stipulates a pre-trial period of six months for misdemeanor crimes, 18 months for criminal offences, and two years in case of crimes receiving the life sentence or the death penalty. 

Mr. Mervyn calls for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Mr. Zaki who served as a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

The CSW President also urges the Egyptian government “to allow all those working to defend and uphold human rights in the country to do so without harassment or intimidation.” 

Egypt has been in the limelight for violating the rights of human rights activists by unlawfully detaining them for long periods. 

In 2019, Egyptian authorities raided Rami Kamil’s house in Cairo and arrested him. He was accused of joining a terrorist organization, disturbing public order, inciting the public against the State and using social media to stir up sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians. 

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Gerges Sameeh Zaki has also remained in custody since November 2020 when he was arrested after sectarian violence broke out in the village of Barsha in Minya governorate, Upper Egypt.

A counter terrorism court in Cairo renewed the detention of Mr. Sameeh for 45 days on September 7.

On September 15, CSW officials called on the Egyptian government “to end the practice of prolonging pre-trial detention arbitrarily and indefinitely, and to facilitate the immediate release of Mr. Sameeh, Mr. Kamil and others held for pre-trial periods that exceed legal stipulations.” 

“We also urge the authorities to adopt measures aimed at combating the culture of collective punishment in the Minya region, and to address the societal hostility underpinning sectarian discord through a robust program of civic education that promotes respect for religious diversity and equality of citizenship,” CSW officials said.

They added, “Local human rights organizations like Mr. Kamil’s are key to this effort, and they must be allowed to undertake this work unhindered.”

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On September 13, the leadership of ten Non-Governmental Organizations operating in the predominantly Muslim North African nation said Mr. Zaki’s detention is “an infringement on the rights of all Egyptians to freedom of expression, and the rights of Christian Egyptians in particular to  demand their right to equality both socially and in front of the law.”