News / Africa

    Egypt Frees Youth Imprisoned for Wearing Anti-torture T-shirt

    Egyptian activist Mahmoud Mohammed Ahmed, left, smiles next to his brother, Tarek, after his release from a police station in Cairo, Egypt, March 24, 2016.
    Egyptian activist Mahmoud Mohammed Ahmed, left, smiles next to his brother, Tarek, after his release from a police station in Cairo, Egypt, March 24, 2016.
    Associated Press

    An Egyptian youth arrested two years ago for wearing a T-shirt with a slogan against torture was released early Friday, his brother said.

    Mahmoud Mohammed Ahmed, 20, was freed from a Cairo police station more than 12 hours after a court in Cairo upheld another court's order to release him. The prosecution had appealed the earlier ruling.

    Wearing a white T-shirt and a matching baseball cap, he stepped out of the station to a welcome by his brother, Tarek Mohammed Ahmed, and a small crowd of lawyers, rights activists and friends.

    Mahmoud was 18 and a high school student when he was arrested January 25, 2014 — the third anniversary of the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak and a day that saw deadly street clashes between police and protesters.

    He was detained on his way home from a rally marking the anniversary, at a checkpoint north of Cairo, and accused by police of taking part in unauthorized demonstrations, possession of explosives and paying money on behalf of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group to others to take part in protests. He was never formally charged.

    When arrested, he was wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan "A nation without torture'' — which turned his case into a cause celebre for Egyptian rights activists campaigning for an end to police abuses.

    His brother and one of his lawyers, Mukhtar Munir, have maintained that Mahmoud was tortured in the early stages of his detention and deprived of many of his rights. He had leg surgery in 2010 for a condition stemming from a bad childhood fall. In detention, the condition of the leg deteriorated because of lack of adequate medical attention, they said. He now limps and walks slowly, using a cane for support.

    Brother's campaign

    Since Mahmoud's arrest, Tarek, also an activist, has campaigned for his release, using social media, TV appearances and press interviews.

    Mahmoud's letters to friends and relatives smuggled out of prison and seen by the AP testify to both his youth and activism. They are adorned by drawings of Mickey Mouse, smiley faces or flowers. One letter to his brother says: "I am positive that the day will come when we will do everything without fearing prison or oppression.'' In another note, he wrote: "We will die when we stop dreaming.''

    His detention was part of the crackdown overseen by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who the year before, as military chief, led the July 2013 ouster of Egypt's elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, following mass protests against his divisive rule.

    The crackdown has primarily targeted Morsi's Brotherhood supporters, but secular, pro-democracy activists have not been spared. Mahmoud's case drew the attention of rights groups at home and abroad, mostly because of his young age and the circumstances of his arrest.

    Amnesty International in January said his detention was an "utter disgrace'' and an "affront to justice.''

    "No one should be arrested or detained simply because of slogans on the T-shirt or scarf they have chosen to wear, let alone imprisoned for two years and facing torture and other ill treatment in detention,'' said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty's deputy director for Mideast and North Africa.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora