Does a child with cancer belong in jail?

If the dark absurdity of the Hamada Saber case isn't enough, here is another illustration of the ongoing casual cruelty of the Egyptian state that has activists riled up.

Mahmoud Adel Mohammed Hassan and Abdel Rahman Ramadan Mohammad are two 14-year-old kids who were arrested in Alexandria recently. They have been detained in a regular prison, with adults, for 15 days, and a judge recently renewed their detention for an additional 15 days. The prosecution told police to transfer them to a juvenile home, but although some officials intervened in the case nothing happened. The police would not move them.

The thing is, young Mahmoud suffers from Ewing's Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. The judge has denied an appeal for his release on medical grounds. He has thus been unable to attend the chemotherapy sessions he needs to survive. His family has tried everything to get him out, a number of activists are trying to petititon the prosecutor the intervene.

To get a 14-year-old kid his chemotherapy treatment, apparently, is not that easy. Even if you have a prosecutor's order and their case appears to lack any clear evidence.

If any journalists are interested in their story, I have numbers for family members — just contact me here.

Update: Mahmoud has been released.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.