NewsEgypt's president pardons human rights activist Zaki - DW - 19.07.2023

    Egypt’s president pardons human rights activist Zaki – DW – 19.07.2023

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has pardoned human rights activist Patrick Zaki, state media reports. The pardon came just a day after his conviction. According to activists, Zaki was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday for “spreading false information”. Prominent human rights lawyer and head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Hossam Bahgat, said on Tuesday that an appeal against the verdict because of an article on religious freedom was not possible.

    News of the pardon came after the US State Department tweeted that it was “concerned” about Zaki’s sentence and called for the “immediate release of him and others unjustly detained.”

    Reason for conviction: “spreading misinformation”

    Zaki had already been arrested during a visit to Egypt in 2020. At that time he was studying in Italy. Zaki was then held in custody for 22 months. He was released again in December 2021. After the court verdict on Tuesday, he was arrested again.

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    Patrick Zaki was arrested while visiting Egypt in 2020 Credit: MOHAMED EL-RAAI/AFP/Getty Images

    According to human rights lawyer Bahgat, the reason for the action against Zaki was an article published in 2020 in which Zaki had reported on his experiences of discrimination as a member of the Christian Copt minority. The authorities then accused him of “spreading false information”, “endangering national security” and “inciting subversion”.

    About 10 to 15 million of the 105 million Egyptians are of the Coptic faith. The Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Although they are numerous, they feel discriminated against and excluded from many offices. They criticize, for example, that the laws for building churches are much stricter than for building mosques.

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    Egypt’s human rights record under review

    More than 40 Egyptian and international organizations – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy – denounced the verdict as “scandalous”. According to activists, Zaki was beaten and tortured during his detention.

    According to human rights organizations, tens of thousands of political prisoners are being held in harsh prison conditions and overcrowded cells in Egypt, including journalists, lawyers, trade unionists and artists. Human rights groups estimate that thousands of political prisoners remain in custody in Egypt, many without trial.

    Activist Fattah’s well-known lawyer also pardoned

    Egypt has pardoned dozens of prisoners in recent months after its human rights record came under international scrutiny when hosting the UN climate summit in November. In addition to Zaki, Mohammed al-Baker, the lawyer of Alaa Abdel Fattah, Egypt’s most famous political prisoner, has now also been pardoned, the state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported.

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    Activists are skeptical about a “national dialogue” launched by the Egyptian government at the beginning of the year. Lawyer Negad al-Borai said on Tuesday that he had resigned from the Dialog Board of Trustees – after Zaki’s conviction his presence there was “pointless”. The opposition politician Chaled Dawud and the lawyer Ahmed Ragheb also announced their withdrawal from the body.

    mws/sti (afp, ap, dpa)

    Source: DW

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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