He feared for his safety. This is one truth we at il manifesto can report after the violent death of the doctoral student Giulio Regeni, 28, a contributor to this newspaper who was found dead in Cairo on Wednesday.
This truth is important because of the overwhelming silence and serious contradictions from Egyptian officials. First the Egyptian prosecutor confirmed Regeni suffered unspeakable torture, and then the Interior Minister denied those claims. Meanwhile, the Italian government demands “truth,” but contradicts itself with a business trip, led by Industry Minister Federica Guidi, that weaves peaceful economic relations with a military regime that has been described by writer Orhan Pamuk as “equal to that of Pinochet.”
We say he feared for his safety because in the beginning of January, when he pitched his last article to us about the resumption of independent trade union activity in Egypt, he insisted upon the need to sign the article with a pseudonym. We understood that he was very concerned because he sent us several emails about it. Previous articles by Regeni were also published under a false name. (see the clarifications about this here)
Il manifesto does not speculate about the lives of others and is not laying the groundwork for a conspiracy theory. We’re simply a newspaper that pushes the limits and has suffered terrorist attacks; kidnappings, like that of Giuliana Sgrena in Iraq; and killings, such as Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza.
But the cascade of interpretations and theories from officials and some news organizations is nothing short of incredible. They cite without question the version of the story reported by the Egyptian intelligence service, which naturally denies any responsibility for his possible detention and arrest. They redirect the focus toward a simple criminal act, or claim it was an automobile accident.
Some clarifications are therefore necessary: Regeni disappeared on Jan. 25, the fifth anniversary of the uprising against Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir square. The climate in the country was one of intense youth mobilization, not only in memory of the Arab Spring but directed against the present military regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The government’s reaction, of course, was repression and police raids, this time with hundreds of “preventative arrests.”
Regeni was neither violent nor an enemy of Egypt. On the contrary, he loved that country and, as a doctoral student at Cambridge, was an expert on its social struggles, particularly Egyptian trade unions and economic models of the Middle East. He passed away, according to Egyptian prosecutors, after being subjected to unprecedented violence.
It’s difficult to imagine a simple Cairene criminal raging against a foreigner without any motive or self-interest. It’s just as difficult — but you can see where this would be expedient — to blame his death on ISIS, which has a penchant for the theatrical.
Let me be clear. We do not know who his killers are. We can only suspect and watch. But we will demand the truth, the entire truth, from the Egyptian government, from Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
We owe this much in the face of the pain of his parents and the loss of Regeni’s young life.
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