Patrick Zaki, tomorrow the hearing: “fingers crossed” for possible sentence

The Egyptian student faces up to five years in prison for subversive propaganda

“Fingers crossed”. Patrick Zaki’s nightmare could be put to an end tomorrow. In the Mansoura court, which ordered his release on 7 December last, a new hearing is scheduled for the trial in which the Egyptian student from the Mater University of Bologna is accused. Zaki spoke of “fingers crossed for the next hearing” saying he wanted to return “to Bologna as soon as possible” in an interview with ‘Che Tempo che fa’ on 12 December, four days after being released from prison.

Already tomorrow the final sentence could arrive for the student, who he faces up to five years in prison for subversive propaganda. But it is also possible that the judge will set the date on which the sentence will be pronounced. Zaki, as he wrote in his first tweet as a free man, wants “freedom, freedom, freedom”.

The optimism of the eve, however, must be accompanied by caution. As highlighted by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (Eipr), the Egyptian NGO with which the student collaborated, the release of Zaki was “good news and we hope it is a good sign”, but “there is no certainty” that this will lead to his acquittal.


The ‘nightmare’ for the student of the Alma Mater University of Bologna began on 7 February 2020, when he was taken behind bars in the infamous Tora prison, after being stopped at the Cairo airport. He had returned to Egypt to visit his family, a vacation period that had instead cost him his arrest. Only in the last months of his detention had he been transferred to al-Mansoura prison, the city where Zaki was born on June 16, 1991.

The charges mentioned in the arrest warrant are threat to national security, incitement to illegal protests, subversion, dissemination of false news, propaganda for terrorism. In particular, the Egyptian researcher allegedly carried out subversive propaganda through some posts published on Facebook.

The indictment took place instead for “spreading false news inside and outside the country” on the basis of three articles written by Zaki. Among the texts accused, one stands out, written in 2019 on Coptic Christians in Egypt persecuted by the Islamic State, ISIS, and discriminated against by some elements of Muslim society. Zaki himself belongs to the Egyptian Coptic community. In recent months there have been hearings in which Zaki’s preventive detention was renewed each time for 15 or 45 days, despite numerous appeals and initiatives from the Italian government, politicians, activists and associations.