Patrick Zaki goes on stage at the cinema in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, welcomed by the mayor Matteo Lepore. Pd Elly Schlein’s secretary surprisingly sat in the front row, coming from behind.
The new life of Patrick Zaki materializes in the hall of the VIII centenary of the rectory, on the afternoon of a day “to be marked on the calendar of human rights”, according to Amnesty International, at the end of the “most important trip of my life”, as he said as soon as he landed in Malpensa. Until now he had been seen in the silhouettes and yellow banners scattered around Bologna, then his face, when he was released from prison, had appeared on the screens, connected from Egypt or on television services about the court hearings. The plane took him to Milan, the rector Giovanni Molari and professor Rita Monticelli hugged him tightly and brought him back to the city that for more than three years, more than a thousand days, had been waiting for him from a distance, continually reviving the campaign for his release. Finally present, free. “I’m finally here, it’s a dream come true after all these years. There are no words that can describe how I feel, ”he said at the rectory, immediately after receiving the degree scroll and a wish from the rector:“ A free and independent life, without having his jacket pulled. It’s nice to have him here, the University is a place of freedom and pluralism”.
In the crowded press conference, Zaki found the words: he recalled the support he enjoyed from the city he calls “my second home: I have seen this support in three years and it has also been seen in Cairo.” And then: “I thank the Italian and Egyptian authorities, the NGOs, civil society. The leaders of the Italian state up to the prime minister,” he said. He immediately recalling the other cause involving Italy and Egypt: “Justice for Giulio Regeni”. And again: “Mine was a success story, but in Egypt there are still hundreds of people in prison, we ask that they be released. They deserve a presidential pardon like me.” The day had already begun with words of gratitude, as if to cool down the controversy over the refusal of the state flight, delivered at the Cairo airport. “Thank you to the Italian government for what they have done in the last few days, I really appreciate all they have done.” Riccardo Noury, spokesman for Amnesty International Italy, also underlined how Patrick has “on several occasions thanked and expressed his appreciation for the efforts made at all levels, including the Italian institutions, to carry out this day. Now – said Noury, who also arrived in Bologna to welcome the 32-year-old – it is time for us to thank him: for resisting the prison, for encouraging us to act every day, for never forgetting the other Egyptian prisoners of conscience, for doing the biggest campaign possible for a 21st century prisoner of conscience”.
The stage of Milan
“It’s the most important day of my life, see you in Bologna.” These are the first words of Patrick Zaki, who arrived at Malpensa airport in a crowd of reporters. “I’m happy to be in Italy, see you in Bologna,” Zaki added smiling, then waving his fingers in victory. His fiancée Reny Iskander, his sister Marise, the rector of the University of Bologna Giovanni Molari and the professor Rita Monticelli are waiting for him, who got into a van with him to take him to Bologna.
“Welcome, Patrick. The Rector and Professor Monticelli welcome Patrick at the Malpensa airport, together they will leave immediately for Bologna. First stop at the Rectorate! Here Patrick Zaki will meet the press and will be presented with the degree scroll he obtained remotely on July 5.” Thus, on social networks, the Alma Mater Studiorum welcomes the recently graduated Egyptian activist.
“The Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, met with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Moustafà Madbouly. In the bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of the Rome conference, Meloni renewed her thanks to President Al Sisi for the pardon granted to Patrick Zaki. The meeting focused on the strong collaboration between Rome and Cairo, on the fight against illegal immigration and on Italian investments in Egypt”. This was reported by diplomatic sources during the international summit in progress in La Farnesina.
The output, ‘Thanks to Italy’
The Egyptair MS705 Cairo-Milan Malpensa flight carrying Patrick Zaki, a Boeing-737, took off at 2:14 p.m. Egyptian time (1:14 p.m. in Italy) from the Egyptian capital, therefore almost 20 minutes late, but the arrival was scheduled for 4:43 p.m. Italian time, therefore a little before the 4:50 p.m. radar24. “Now we are flying,” Patrick wrote in response to a question from ANSA, confirming that he was on board. “I’m happy to be on my way to Italy.. Thanks to Bologna, thanks to everyone, thanks to the Italians who have worked in these three years to get to this moment”, were his first words upon arriving this morning at Terminal 3 of the Cairo airport.
“Thanks to the Italian government for what it has done in the last few days, I really appreciated everything they did,” Patrick Zaki told reporters at the Cairo airport. “I’m very excited to be here,” he said. “Thanks to Italian diplomacy in Egypt,” he added, citing the Italian ambassador in Cairo, Michele Quaroni, and his adviser Marco Cardoni.
“Wish me luck, I hope to be there in a few hours”: said Patrick Zaki entering the Cairo airport together with his girlfriend Rény Iskander and her sister Marise. Greeting them outside Terminal 3 were Patrick’s mother, a visibly emotional Ms Hala, and father George. The “good luck” that the Egyptian researcher wished for himself was implicit but clearly linked to the fact that the revocation of his travel ban was to be formalized only today at noon Egyptian time, thus less than two hours before takeoff with an Egyptair flight to Milan Malpensa to be caught and then continued by car to Bologna. Yesterday one of his lawyers reminded ANSA that the only way to guarantee the revocation of an expatriation ban in Egypt is to try to pass passport control with a plane ticket, as Patrick is doing.