The Syrian Presidency announced in August 2018 that Asma had breast cancer, after which she was treated for an early stage of a malignant tumour, according to official Syrian statements. Asma took advantage of her illness to carry out a series of activities on social media and make various appearances wearing a scarf on her head as one way to demonstrate that she underwent chemotherapy. She participated in World Breast Cancer Awareness Day in a way that was described as spontaneous, engaging in chats with women undergoing cancer treatment at the hospital.
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Her clients were women who protested the obligatory dress code by taking off their hijab in public in 2018, an act that the authorities equate with treason. Sotoudeh was already well-known for having represented jailed opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 presidential elections as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors.
Erdogan has cemented his place in the history books as modern Turkey’s second-most notable ruler, but he seems determined to better that. Even after last year’s referendum, he has orchestrated a purge of elected AKP officials in cities where results from the vote were lower than expected. Loyalty to Erdogan seems to be the sole determinant of survival in this latest reshuffle of Turkish politics. If Turkey’s future seems unsure, one thing is certain: Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be at its centre.
Born in 1975, Odeh grew up in the city of Haifa. The only Muslim in a Christian school, he speaks fluent Hebrew as well as Arabic, English and Romanian. He became politically engaged at a young age, attending his first demonstration on 30 March 1988, Land Day, aged 13. The next three years “were the most beautiful of my life”, he told The New Yorker. “I felt completely identified with the struggle.”
Despite these setbacks, Mathlouthi continues to thrive professionally and dedicate her art to political causes, as she stated in an interview for Okay Africa. “We have to still feel the pain of others. That’s the basis of us not going towards dehumanization. That’s my big point. So that’s political. I just hate the word political today more than ever because it’s so dirty. Art has to find a new definition to fight, to be associated with. I think that my art is always going to be concerned. I feel more comfortable adding [that term] to my art than adding the term political.”
During her detention, she wrote an open letter titled ‘We shall continue’, vowing to keep on fighting until the controversial Protest Law issued in November 2013 – which effectively annihilated the right to protest – was abolished. She also pointed to class differences that determine one’s treatment even in prison, ending her letter with the call: ‘Down with this classist society’.