Despite the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the Supera Consortium remains concerned about the conditions of Patrick George Zaky, a 27-year-old Egyptian postgratuate student enrolled in the “GEMMA” Erasmus Mundus Master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Bologna, Italy, who is held in custody in Egypt.

On February 7 2020 Patrick Zaki was arrested by the Egyptian authorities, apparently in connection with his activism and research in the area of human rights and gender issues. The international network Scholars at Risk has reported that after five months of studies in Italy, Zaki returned to Egypt for a family visit. Upon his arrival at Cairo Airport Zaki was reportedly detained, interrogated by members of the Egyptian National Security Agency (NSA) and then taken to an undisclosed location, where he was allegedly subjected to torture, including beatings and electric shocks.

According to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a human rights organization based in Cairo, Egyptian authorities are investigating a number of allegations against Zaki, but have not publicly disclosed the grounds warranting  Zaki’s arrest. Zaki has been denied family visits, and has only had limited contact with legal counsel.

As of today, Zaki has been moved several times, and court hearings have been repeatedly put back due to the Coronavirus crisis.

The University of Bologna has issued a motion, calling for “Patrick Zaky’s safe and rapid return to Bologna, so that he can resume his studies. Until then, it is our duty to make sure that the Italian Government and the European Union continue to do their utmost to ensure Patrick’s return to our community.”

Responding to this motion, several international university networks have expressed their solidarity to Patrick Zaky.

Motion of the University of Bologna

The Conference of Italian Universities Rectors

Crue Universidades Españolas

Conférence des Présidents d’Université

Magna Charta Universitatum Observatory

European University association EUA

Scholars at Risk