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German student missing after secret police arrest in Cairo

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German student missing after secret police arrest in Cairo
Photo: Jeannette Rizk
17:40 CET+01:00
A German-Egyptian blogger and student engaged in pro-Palestinian political activity is missing after being arrested by Egyptian police in Cairo, a spokesperson from the Foreign Ministry confirmed late on Monday.

The German embassy in Cairo “has asked for clarification” and is in contact with Egyptian authorities to locate the 26-year-old, who holds both German and Egyptian passports.

Philip Rizk, a student at the American University in Cairo, was arrested and taken to an undisclosed location by secret police on Friday after taking part in a demonstration march to show solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

He may have expected trouble from the police, his sister Jeannette told The Local on Tuesday.

“Anyone who does this kind of thing has to expect this because the government is pretty harsh on those who are critical of their policy,” she said from her parents' apartment in Cairo, where the family has gathered to wait for news on his whereabouts.

The Rizk family believes that Philip has been taken to “an unofficial state security detention centre” in Cairo, she told The Local. Though they still have not received any official information from Egyptian authorities, “a lot of people who have connections have called to tell us where he might be,” she said.

Fourteen other activists were arrested and interrogated after the Friday demonstration, but one Egyptian student who also took part told media that the police had taken Rizk away separately in a white minibus.

Police denied that they had Rizk, then searched his parents' home, attempting to detain his father as well. The arrest appears to be an attempt by Egyptian authorities to quiet criticism of their Gaza policy through an emergency law that allows them to detain people without due process, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

“The German embassy filed an official inquiry, and the ambassador himself went to authorities to inquire, but they have no formal results,” Jeannette Rizk told The Local. “The problem is that he is also an Egyptian citizen and we are in Egypt.”

International organisations Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International are working to increase pressure on the Egyptian government to reveal Philip's location.

“It is not in the government's interest to continue this,” his sister said.

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