In the early morning of 24th, March 2016, Rasha Tarek an Egyptian housewife woke up to help her husband getting ready for work. He had to go to an affluent neighborhood in Cairo to do some wall painting. Rasha was suspicious that her husband is being unfaithful to her, so she called her father and brother to accompany the husband in the short work trip. Later on the day, Rasha called her husband to hear her brother’s voice begging someone for mercy. She kept calling over and over but the mobile phones of the three men were turned off.
At the following day, the headlines in Egyptian news celebrated the heroic achievement of the Egyptian police who could catch and kill the gang that kidnapped, robbed and tortured Guillio Regeni. The only evidence the Egyptian police provided was a picture of Guillio’s university card next to a handbag that was claimed to belong to the criminals. The alleged gang was composed of five men, three of them were Rasha’s father, brother, and husband. The five men have no criminal records and they met for the first time while taking the same bus to Cairo at the day of their tragic killing. Italy refused the Egyptian police story and small protests took place in Cairo streets calling for justice not only for Regeni, but also for the innocent five men. Also, many social media users used the hashtag (Justice for the five men and Justice for Regini) to write about them. However, now, only one month later, there is no mention of the five men in any media outlet or social media and till this moment very few people would know the actual names o the five men, unlike Regeni.
Guillio Regeni, an Italian PHD student at Cambridge University, disappeared in Cairo at the 5th anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. His battered and bruised body was found outside Cairo in early February. The incident sparked outrage in Italy, where officials questioned the various explanations Egypt has offered for young man’s death. Till this moment, the horrible death of Guillio is being talked about in international and European media as unsolved mystery and a pressure card at the hands of the Italian government.
According to Agamben, Homo Sacer means those reduced to bare life and can be killed by anyone in the society with no consequences. In Roman times, the sovereignty, which also implies the ability to kill, was only for the king who has the authorities of God, so he has the right and capacity take the life of any of his objects. Now in modern states, the sovereignty is scattered among the constituencies of the system, and the right to kill became a collective not individual responsibility on the society, however, the implementation remained at the hands of the state.The state has a totalitarian control of life and death with no justification needed. The Egyptian state did not even exert any effort in creating a solid story. The five men with no previous connection, who cooperated together to kill a random Italian guy with no motive and kept his belongings while driving together through Cairo streets is a ridiculous story that a kid would not believe, so the state is not actually interested in providing a justification for killing five people. Citizens, as viewed, the state are just objects with biological nature…A zeo with some rights of Bios.. A creature whose death has no impact nor his/her life… A bare life.
That is exactly why I feel so scared every time I go to protest in Egypt, knowing that my life and death mean nothing for the power holders. It means a lot to my family and to my social circles, but within the context of the Egyptian state, we are in a state of exception where all ordinary citizens are Homo Sacers.
Agamben, G. (1998) ‘Part two: Homo Sacer’ in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp.71-115.
Guillio’s Regeni Mother’s speech in front of the Italian Parliament
Italian student’s killing pulls Egyptian family into web of deaths, dead ends
Human Rights watch- World Report 2015: Egypt
Who killed Regeni? (Arabic)
List of the Egyptian police victims in the first quarter of 2016 (Arabic)