Rami Sidky, a 33-year old guitarist and musician from Cairo (Egypt) has been languishing in jail since May 2018. The Egyptian judiciary continues to hold Rami without clear charges. His supposed crime? Alleged participation in a song critical of the Egyptian President – a song that he not only disagrees with but more importantly had no participation in at all.
This is Rami’s story:
After performing with his current band – called Jimi and the Saint – in Beirut in May 2018, Rami was detained by the Egyptian security services upon his arrival back at Cairo International Airport on 5 May 2018. His musical instruments and personal belongings were also confiscated. Prior to this, in February 2018, Ramy Essam – a well-known and controversial singer living in exile in Europe – had uploaded a song critical of the Egyptian President Abd el Fattah el Sisi on Youtube. The song was deemed offensive by the Egyptian authorities.
Rami Sidky had played music with Ramy Essam in the past. He left Essam’s band in 2013, breaking off all of their musical engagements a year later since he fundamentally disagreed with the direction of Essam’s work. Yet, disturbingly, it is now Rami Sidky who is incarcerated, having had no involvement with the song.
Since his arrest, the authorities have continuously told him informally that he would be released soon, since there is no link between him and the song. Yet, he remains imprisoned. He is being held without clear charges, without direct access to his lawyer, and without a real investigation. His detention is continuously extended (initially by 15 days and now by 45 days at a time), sometimes without even so much as entering a courtroom. Rami thus faces the possibility of indefinite detention in one of Egypt’s most notorious prisons.
Whilst Rami has always been open-minded and compassionate, his physical world has now been reduced to a 15-square metre prison cell shared with others. His hope for his future is collapsing. Having been solely dependent on playing the guitar for his profession, he is now not even sure whether his fingers could still perform.
The mental effects on Rami are severe: he suffers from debilitating depression and other common issues related to detention in an Egyptian prison, such as poor nutrition and inadequate care for prior dental complications. His health keeps deteriorating due to the unhealthy environment of Tora prison and the ambiguity of his judicial process.
Rami’s family, friends and fellow artists therefore urge the authorities to recognize Rami Sidky’s innocence, clear his case, and release him immediately. He has had no relation to or involvement with the composition, recording, production and dissemination of Ramy Essam’s song at all.
Rami Sidky’s musical and personal background:
Rami Sidky greatest passion has always been music. He has hence been an active performer in Egypt’s music scene for over 12 years. His particular style of playing the guitar has influenced aspiring guitarists and young musicians in Egypt. Over the years, Rami performed with a number of local independent bands, including Wyvern and Sharmoofers, He also played with cover bands such as Screwdriver and Buzzz, and was engaged in the musical “Leila The Musical”. He furthermore worked as a session musician with various pop-artists and recorded music for TV series and advertisements.
He was also co-founder of “Da House Art Space”, fostering young musicians by establishing a creative hub and venue for young musicians and bands in Egypt. Since Rami’s detention, “Da House” was no longer able to keep operating.
Most recently, in October 2015, he co-founded Jimi and the Saint together with singer/songwriter Jimi Elgohary. Mixing futuristic rock and electronica, the band’s lyrics speak to real-life personal and social issues. Their debut EP was due to be released after their performance in Beirut in 2018, but has been on hold (alongside his other numerous musical projects) due to his detention.
Rami comes from an upper middle-class family, his father worked for the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, holding key positions in Egyptian embassies all over the world. His mother is a former department head in a multinational petroleum company. His family has suffered greatly during Rami’s detention, especially since he is their only child and caregiver.
Having grown up with an international orientation, Rami pursued his studies at the Università Mediterranean in Genova in Italy (2010-2012) and his MA studies at the University of Amsterdam (2014-2015) – where he left a deep impression due to his caring and social character. After his studies in Amsterdam, Rami returned to Egypt and pursued his musical aspirations. Rami was not a political activist and never belonged to a political party. His passion was music and artistic expression: playing the guitar, writing music and performing live – thereby making a positive impact on himself and his surroundings. If anything, Rami is a promoter of Egyptian culture and arts – he is a musician with a dream to spread his music across cultures.
Rami’s musical tones have now been muted and his life put on standstill. Reaching almost a year of detention, he has been stripped from the life he now so dearly misses.
There is absolutely no law or right that can justify his detention. It is inevitable, at this point, that the authorities and the people in power officially recognize that Rami Sidky should be released immediately, and his association to this case be terminated and cleared.
#FreeRami #Freemusicians #Freemuse #SafeMuse #PEN International #ARC