Unending detention turns detainee into artist
A drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed during his prolonged remand that exceeded 2 years. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq's Facebook page.
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CAIRO: A 20-yr old prisoner who has been in pre-trial detention for more than two years has overcome desolation of prison by sketching Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Mahmoud Mohamed Hussein, the student known in the media as the “t-shirt” detainee for an anti-torture t-shirt he was wearing when arrested, has taught himself drawing to escape the anguish of his “unlawful” detention.

A drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed during his prolonged remand that exceeded 2 years. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq's Facebook page.

A drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed during his prolonged remand that exceeded 2 years. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq’s Facebook page.

 

A drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed during his prolonged remand that exceeded 2 years. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq's Facebook page.

A drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed during his prolonged remand that exceeded 2 years. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq’s Facebook page.

 

Before his arrest, Mahmoud did not know how to draw, according to his brother Tariq who has posted his sketches on social media, which garnered sympathy from many users.

Tariq spent a period in prison over what he describes as “trumped-up” charges of belonging to the Brotherhood. Tariq now has advice for his imprisoned young brother.

“You have to learn to do something so when you go out, you do not feel you have to start from scratch,” Tariq told his brother Mahmoud.

“Over the past months, I used to send him drawing books so he can learn,” Tariq told The Cairo Post. Tariq was afraid incarceration would have negative impact on his brother, so he told him he has to be “tolerant” and to “learn something,” because as Tariq said, “art and knowledge enables one to adapt.”

A picture of a sketch by Mahmoud Mohamed posted by his brother Tariq on Facebook.

A picture of a sketch by Mahmoud Mohamed posted by his brother Tariq on Facebook.

 

Another drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed featuring Donald Duck and dedicated to some one called Sara. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq's Facebook page.

Another drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed featuring Donald Duck and dedicated to some one called Sara. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq’s Facebook page.

 

Mahmoud has missed two years of his school during his prolonged detention that has exceeded the maximum limit for remand per law.

The young boy was arrested in January 2014 on his way home in Delta’s Qalubiya. He was wearing a T-Shirt with a slogan reads “Nation Without Torture,” and a scarf has the word “January 25” written on it; both were counted among seized evidences against him.

A picture of Mahmoud Mohamed handcuffed, taken when he was arrested in January 2014. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq's Facebook page.

A picture of Mahmoud Mohamed handcuffed, taken when he was arrested in January 2014. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq’s Facebook page.

 

He is accused, along with a co-defendant, of protesting, possessing explosives and disrupting public peace.

Mahmoud is a “distinguished person” Dr. Maher el-Dabaa, a Psychology Professor at American University in Cairo (AUC,) told The Cairo Post. “[Mahmoud] has managed to resist a difficult circumstance and changed it into a positive opportunity, where he can express himself with drawing.”

Dabaa explained that Mahmoud has done two positive things to himself; first he learned a new skill, and second, he “discharged and vented negative energy into something beautiful,” saying that in other cases, one might resort to incite disputes with other inmates as a type of relieving.

“Prison does not always represent a deadlock for a person, sometimes hardships show a person his talents and enable him to focus on them,” Hoda Zakaria, a Political Sociology professor told The Cairo Post.

Mahmoud dedicated his drawings to friends and some activists who are currently behind bar like prominent blogger Alaa Abdel Fatah, wishing his imprisonment would end and re-unite with his wife Manal.

A drawing depicting Alaa Abdel Fatah and his wife Manal, sketched by imprisoned young man Mahmoud Mohamed. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq's Facebook page.

A drawing depicting Alaa Abdel Fatah and his wife Manal, sketched by imprisoned young man Mahmoud Mohamed. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq’s Facebook page.

 

Another drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed, known as t-shirt detainee who has been in pre-trial detention for over two years. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq's Facebook page.

Another drawing by Mahmoud Mohamed, known as t-shirt detainee who has been in pre-trial detention for over two years. Photo courtesy of his brother Tariq’s Facebook page.

 

His brother Tariq said that he thinks of presenting Mahmoud’s drawings in an exhibition, after promoting them on the internet.

In his recent visit to Mahmoud, Tariq reported his brother’s health deterioration as he is in need of an urgent surgery on his leg and effective physical therapy, citing medical negligence in prison; one of several fixed complaints reported by families of inmates.

Compared to his photos before the arrest, Mahmoud’s recently circulated courtroom pictures showed a child growing into a man.

Mahmoud Mohamed, A 20-Yr Old Detained Student During A Court Session To Consider His Remand. Photo Courtesy By His Brother Tariq's Facebook Page.

Mahmoud Mohamed, A 20-Yr Old Detained Student During A Court Session To Consider His Remand. Photo Courtesy By His Brother Tariq’s Facebook Page.

Since he was arrested in January 2014, Mahmoud’s detention has been kept renewed several times without a single trial session.

His Lawyer Mokhtar Mounir appealed a Feb.7 court decision to renew Mahmoud’s remand by 45 days, describing it as a “void decision” as Mahmoud’s maximum pre-trial detention has already ended on Jan. 26, he told The Cairo Post.

Many human rights organizations have condemned extended imprisonment of many detainees including journalists, considering it a way of “punishment” to dissent.

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