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Italy activists launch campaign to boycott holidays in Egypt amid alarming forcible disappearances

A poster by Italian street artist Laika, entitled "Don't visit Egypt", is pictured on a wall near the Egyptian embassy on June 16, 2021 in Rome in protest against the recent extension of the detention in Egypt of a 29-year-old Egyptian student Patrick Zaki. [ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images]
A poster by Italian street artist Laika, entitled "Don't visit Egypt", is pictured on a wall near the Egyptian embassy on June 16, 2021 in Rome in protest against the recent extension of the detention in Egypt of a 29-year-old Egyptian student Patrick Zaki. [ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images]

Italian activists have launched a campaign urging people not to go on holiday to Egypt in protest against the regime's unchecked, systematic forcible disappearance of dissidents.

In September last year the Egyptian Commission for Human Rights said that there had been some 2,723 forcible disappearances in just five years.

"A country that deals with torturers and murderers is in all respects complicit with them," posted one campaigner.

Under the Italian hashtag, 'don't go on holiday to Egypt,' activists have raised the issue of Giulio Regeni and Patrick Zaki as examples of what authorities are capable of doing to people who criticise the government.

Regeni was an Italian PhD student at the UK's Cambridge University researching independent trade unions in Cairo when he was kidnapped off the streets of the capital in February 2016.

His body was later found dumped by the side of the road having been tortured to death by Egypt's infamous security services.

Italy has ordered that four senior members of Egypt's security services stand trial for Regeni's murder yet after months of dragging their feet, Egypt's public prosecution officially closed the case.

Twitter user Alessandra wrote: "Because each of us can be Giulio. And because Giulio deserves justice and truth."

READ: Egyptian prisoners die 1,000 times in detention

Zaki was an Egyptian master's student at the University of Bologna in northern Italy who was forcibly disappeared at Cairo airport last year on his way home to visit his family and was tortured and placed on remand.

On his 30th birthday earlier this month Italian politicians asked the government to apply the decision of parliament to grant Zaki Italian citizenship.

One campaigner posted: ""e are convinced that tourism must also have ethics. Going on holiday to dictatorial countries where kidnapping and torture are used as a governmental tool means financing them. Egypt is an unsafe country."

Simona Moschini wrote: "Never been and never will go. The world is full of beautiful places where they don't put thousands of innocent people in jail."

Tourism is one of Egypt's largest revenue sources and was hit hard by the 2011 revolution, the 2013 coup, and the numerous human rights reports that have scared people away.

Egypt's tourism minister estimated the country lost some $1 billion a month as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

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