Artist Mohamed Abla to join constitution committee

Ahram Online, Tuesday 3 Sep 2013

Painter Mohamed Abla to focus on freedom of expression, scientific research and preserving Egypt's multi-layered heritage when he takes part in constitution committee

Mohamed Abla poses at his studio in downtown Cairo, February 2011. (Photo: Sherif Sonbol)

Prominent contemporary artist Mohamed Abla is among the cultural figures and intellectuals selected for the 50-member committee tasked with amending the 2012 constitution.

The committee includes writer and Head of Egypt's Writers Union Mohamed Salmawy, prominent poet Sayed Hegab, and filmmaker Khaled Youssef.

Abla said his focus will be on freedom of thought and expression, encouraging scientific research as a responsibility of the state, preserving Egypt's Coptic, Pharaonic and Roman heritage, and eliminating prison sentences for individuals based merely on their dissident ideas.

The artist revealed that he is currently on a mission to read different world constitutions for research.

He also said that his participation and input in the committee will not be limited to discussing articles related to arts, culture and freedom, but that he would also offer up his ideas on draft articles dealing with different topics.

Abla was born in 1953 in Egypt's Mansoura. He graduated with a BA from the faculty of fine arts at Alexandria University in 1977. The prolific painter has exhibited artwork in galleries across Europe including the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK, as well as Egypt.

The artist is known for his engagement in politics. He has been a strong proponent of the January 25 revolution since 2011, when he organised art workshops for young artists throughout the 18-day uprising that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

His artwork, always politically charged, has mirrored the tumultuous transition following the revolution. In January 2012, he launched a Facebook exhibition entitled "Wolves," in which he represented security forces and army soldiers as beastly wolves, in reaction to violent attacks on peaceful protests at a sit-in in December 2011 outside the cabinet building which left 13 dead.

Abla was also one of the artists who broke in to and occupied the culture ministry building in June 2013, protesting the appointment and policies of Muslim Brotherhood-loyalist culture minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz.

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