Most of the requests from prosecutor in Rome to the Cairo judiciary have been welcomed, but Giulio Regeni’s death still remains shrouded in one of the most sinister of mysteries ever. Yet, three months after the death of 28-year old researcher, who died in Egypt high probably for his university (and uncomfortable) researches on Egyptian trade unions, there are people who still clamoring for justice and truth. They do that with Street Art, in a country far away from theirs: El Teneen has drawn on a Berlin wall the face of Giulio joined by that cat, battered today and painted by Ganzeer, who accompanied the young man in the known photo that shows them together. With him two other Egyptian artists, Naguib and iAhmed, have made some sketches they hope to transform soon into real murals.
“They killed him as if he was an Egyptian” is the message that El Teneen added, with the elegant stretch of the Arabic script, on the portrait of Giulio. The words on the background are from Hanaa El Dagham. But why did he decide to create the mural in honor of our research? “I was surprised to hear of the disappearance and barbaric murder of Giulio Regeni. It was a surprise because it’s a rare occurrence for a foreigner on Egyptian soil yet the daily news stories in Egypt are the forced disappearances, torture, and murder – sometimes in broad daylight and recorded on video – of Egyptian youth by the police state. When Giulio’s case is solved and his offenders face justice, it will do more than bring comfort to his family. It will reignite our hope that we can someday soon stop the similar horrors Egyptian youths are subjected to on a daily basis and bring those who administer them in the name of law to face unbiased justice. The words I choose to write on Guilio’s portrait were said by his mother. In her speech to the Italian parliament, Paolo Regeni acknowledged that Guilio’s case is one among many. The Egyptian police has murdered five men and tried to blame them for being Guilio’s crime. Many have fallen victim to the problem of police brutality and torture on the hands of the Egyptian police force. Many are now imprisoned due to participating in a demonstration, or after criticizing the political systems using peaceful means such as music. The war waged by the regime against its critics doesn’t acknowledge human rights”.
The same idea is also from Naguib, who tells me how the idea to do the sketch was bornt and what he thinks of the deal Regeni: “I was invited by don Karl, a german artist and publisher (and author of Homeland’s graffiti) to participate in a group work about the case of Giulio regeni as a respond from the Egyptian political street artists to the Italian people, i represented a portrait of Giulio with the same technique and style i use with the portraits of the Egyptian young revolutionaries who died since 2011 til now and i wrote our Italian brother Giulio, he lived among us and he died like us , like Egyptian .. I want to tell that we are all humans and equal and it doesn’t matter if you are Egyptian or foreign , we are all in the side of goodness and we fight for our own freedom against one big system rules the planet with guns and fire and fear, Giulio was killed because he was sharing the same ideas to us .. But he was the red alarm to the whole world to wake up and give attention to the brutal acts of the Egyptian regime against the people , because Giulio is Italian and his human rights are respected but not in Egypt because the regime kills everyone, i wish to paint it in Italy to represent my message as artist to the people but i don’t have enough money to cover my trip from Germany to Italy but maybe i will have the chance soon”.
To remind Regeni, iAhmed has chosen the loving words of Nizar Qabbani, Syria, one of the greatest contemporary Arab poets, who died in 1998. “I started to do artworks in 2011 onwards during the Scaf (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) to express the opinion of the people opposing the government and the military rule. I care about Regini’s case because the government is silent and stands with the system as if nothing has happened. It’s not that I don’t care because I am Egyptian. On the contrary, I care about any political case inside or outside Egypt. With me there are other artists that participate in the case of Giulio and that is necessary. The case must be a topic to a broader public so that the world cares about it”.