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World Tour: Coptic Christian activist released from Egypt


WORLD Radio - World Tour: Coptic Christian activist released from Egypt

Plus, Greek wildfires, Christian protests in India, and opposition to a sex education law in Honduras

Patrick George Zaki at his home in Cairo, Egypt, July 21, following his release from prison Tarek Wajeh via The Associated Press

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: WORLD Tour with our reporter in Nigeria, Onize Ohikere.

Egyptian activist released This week’s global roundup starts in Egypt, where a detained Coptic Christian activist has regained his freedom and left the country.

SOUND: [Airport applause]

Patrick Zaki arrived in Italy on Sunday to the sound of applause.

SOUND: [Applause]

Egyptian authorities arrested Zaki back in 2020 during a short trip to visit his family. Zaki was a master’s student at Italy’s University of Bologna at the time.

Prosecutors charged him with spreading false news over an opinion article he wrote on discrimination against Coptic Christians in Egypt.

He spent 22 months in prison before going on trial. Zaki’s lawyers said he faced torture during interrogation, including electric shocks.

SOUND: [Celebration]

Family and friends welcomed news of his release one day after a court in his hometown of Mansoura sentenced him to three years in prison. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi pardoned Zaki and a handful of other prisoners.

Back in Bologna, Zaki said he is beginning a new phase of his human rights work.

ZAKI: I can't forget the many people who are still paying the price of their peaceful expression of dissent in Egypt, and I hope that this will be the beginning of a fundamental resolution to their cases and to an opening in my country, Egypt.

El-Sissi also pardoned human rights lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer. After two years in pre-trial detention, he received a four-year prison sentence in 2021 for spreading false news, misusing social media, and joining a terror group.

SOUND: [Travelers in airport]

Greek wildfires In Greece, crowds of tourists queued up at the Rhodes International Airport on the island of Rhodes on Monday after wildfires put a stop to their holiday plans.

Local police said they evacuated more than 20,000 people by land and sea.

SPOKESPERSON: [Speaking Greek]

A spokesperson for the Greek Fire Service says it’s the country’s largest evacuation of tourists and residents.

Firefighters are battling 82 wildfires across the country. Sixty-four of them started on Sunday which marked the country’s hottest day yet this summer with temperatures of about 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

LENA SCHWARZ: [Speaking German]

Lena Schwarz, a German tourist who returned home from Rhodes described her experience as hell on earth. She says she ran 6 miles on foot to get away from the flames.

Greek authorities have also accommodated some of the evacuees in hotels and a conference center.

A sweltering summer this year has brought similar wildfires and heat waves to other European countries including Spain and parts of Italy. Fires in Algeria have killed at least 34 people.

SOUND: [Singing]

India Manipur protests In India’s capital of New Delhi, Christian protesters sang and held candles on Sunday to protest violence targeting women in the northeast Manipur state.

Ethnic violence has persisted there since May between the majority Christian Kuki tribe and the majority Hindu Meiteis.

It began after the Kukis protested the Meiteis’ request for a scheduled tribe status. That designation gives marginalized communities like the Kukis guaranteed quotas for education, health, and government jobs.

The latest outrage came after a viral video last week showed a mob stripping and assaulting two Kuki women in May. Police have opened a gang rape investigation into the incident.

Outside the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi, Sister Lidwin Fernandes described the video as heartbreaking.

SISTER LIDWIN: How can I see that video and keep quiet myself? And that’s why I wanted to bring all the women together, all Christian women, so that we may fight for the sake of the women, not only for today, but forever.

More than 130 people have died in the violence. More than 60,000 people have fled their homes.

The trending video sparked reprisal attacks against the homes of some of the accused men.

SOUND: [Meitei women]

Some Meitei women have also blocked roads to stop police from arresting more suspects.

SOUND: [Protest song]

Honduras education protest We close today in Honduras where thousands of Christians and civil society members marched in the capital and other cities on Saturday to oppose a sex education law.

Congress approved the Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Education Law back in March, but it hasn’t come into effect.

The legislation seeks to create a sex education curriculum in public schools. Authorities have said it will be age-appropriate and begin as early as kindergarten in a bid to curb teen pregnancy.

Opponents have said it promotes gender ideology and will introduce topics like homosexuality and transgenderism to minors. Authorities have disagreed, arguing they plan to respect the traditional family model.

LUIZ GOMES: [Speaking Spanish]

Luiz Gomes, a Catholic priest who attended the march says he doesn’t want the law to pass because it threatens the Honduran family system.

President Xiomara Castro said she will study the law before deciding whether to sign or veto it.

That’s it for this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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