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Made in Prison - Daily News Egypt

Made in Prison

A dental student arrested during anti-coup protests at Al-Azhar University is making and selling handbags from prison


Sentenced to serve five years in prison after she was arrested in December during an anti-coup protest at Al-Azhar University, Asmaa Hamdy started her own line of handbags to promote a message of hope (Photo from “Free Asmaa Masr” Facebook page)
Sentenced to serve five years in prison after she was arrested in December during an anti-coup protest at Al-Azhar University, Asmaa Hamdy started her own line of handbags to promote a message of hope
(Photo from “Free Asmaa Masr” Facebook page)

After Asmaa Hamdy was arrested while walking past a protest at Al-Azhar University and sentenced to serve five years in prison she could have grieved and given up.  But, instead, she launched a business making and selling handbags from prison.

Hamdy, a third year dentistry student, started the handbag line, called “Made in Prison”, in May after she was convicted in February of “preventing other students from attending exams”, and assaulting a police officer and taking EGP 200 from him, among other charges.

She was on her way to an exam in December when police took her in. She was one of five women arrested that day during demonstrations protesting the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. Since Morsi’s ouster, at least 286 students at Al-Azhar University have been imprisoned and more than 250 have been expelled, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression. Six students died during clashes between protestors and security forces.

“She was about to be a dentist,” said Ibrahim Ragab, her fiancé. “She was sent to prison with no evidence, the charges are not even logical.”

Hamdy started the project to show that oppression will not “break her” or stop her creativity, he said. The project’s purpose in not to generate money, but to prove that those who were “unjustly detained will not stop living”.

With no previous experience, Hamdy taught herself to crochet with the help of some of her fellow political detainees at Al-Qanater Prison.

 “Made in Prison’s” first batch of bags sold out in less than a month (Photo from  “Free Asmaa Masr” Facebook page)
“Made in Prison’s” first batch of bags sold out in less than a month
(Photo from “Free Asmaa Masr” Facebook page)

After making some scarves, bags and pencil cases for family and friends, Hamdy started to mix and match colours to create “Made in Prison’s” first batch of 11 bags in May. With the help of her friends and family, the entire batch was sold in less than a month. The Facebook page run by her family, which has more than 8,000 fans, shows photos of Hamdy’s exquisite bags, decorated with small ribbons and accessories.

A month after she launched the project, Ragab said prison wardens and criminal prisoners attacked Hamdy, along with some other female political prisoners, and beat them with sticks.

Despite being accused of committing crimes in Cairo, the group was then moved to Damanhour Prison in Al-Beheira, where Hamdy met the Alexandrian lawyer and activist, Mahienour Al-Massry and told her about “Made in Prison”.

Al-Massry, who was convicted of breaking the Protest Law, reached out to her network spreading the word about the project.

“Now we have more than 40 bag orders,” Ragab said. “Asmaa will deliver them to us next time we visit her.”

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  • Al Masry

    With your non-Islamic head cover, police suspected you to be a terrorist. Shame on Egyptian women for being enslaved to non-Islamic, silly traditions.

    • Liberacion

      No. Shame on all those who wear military uniforms, the hall mark of barbarism. Militaries = terrorism, including the Egyptian army.
      Shame on all who defend fascist tyranny and false witness against prisoners through the use of bigoted stereotyping. Supporters of militaries + their tyrants are the main sources of enslavement in the modern world.

  • Ahmed A.El-Sherif

    Replacing newspapers’ editors by Brotherhood puppets in August,2012,addressing the nation as ,”My folks and my clan ,,,” ,besieging the Supreme Constitutional Court to prevent it from convening to rule on Morsi’s infamous Presidential Decree issued in November,2012 immunizing his policies against criticism ,and to rule on the predominance of the Constitution Committee by Brotherhood members ,is that democratic ??!!
    Is a political order that does not recognize the basic concept of citizenship democratic ??!!
    Is a political order that calls all those who disagree with it ‘infidels’ democratic??!!
    Is a political order that marginalizes women and Copts democratic ??!!
    Is a political order that gives precedence to supranational affiliations over national interests democratic??!!
    Is a political order that releases from jail convicted terrorists in July,2012 ,causing an international outcry ,democratic??!!
    Is a political order that is ruled by the Supreme Guide ,rather than the elected president ,democratic??!!
    Is a political order that stems from a paramilitary fascist hierarchical organization based upon ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE to the Supreme Guide democratic??!!
    Is a political order affiliated to terrorists that kill security personnel in Sinai democratic ??!!
    Do I NEED TO SAY MORE ??!!

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  • very sad story. one day i hope she will become a great dentist…..Bella Normatov, DDS

https://dailynewsegypt.com/2014/07/24/made-prison/
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