Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fashion finds its way out from inside the barbed wire of prison camps

16.08.09 - 10:45

Bethlehem / Osama Awad for PNN – Ashraf Zughayyar is in prison, but his designs are not.

A fashion designer who graduated from Beit Sahour’s Fashion and Textile Institute, Zughayyar was arrested in 2002.

Like many youth, he was taken by Israeli forces who accused him of engaging in the armed resistance. A military court sentenced him to 125 years in prison.

PNN sat down this week with Zughayyar’s sister, who is integral in getting her brother’s designs out.

Rania Zughayyar says that the idea of a project called “MoveOn”, was based on the collection of her brother and other political prisoners like him.

“The fashions are purely Palestinian,” she said Saturday, noting that there are many artists in the field of fashion design inside Israeli prisons.

“We faced many difficulties getting the designs out of the prisons of occupation and onto paper because the only papers allowed out are official papers and bills. There is the mail, but that takes time.” She remembers that one design took a full year until it reached her Bethlehem area home.

Rania continued, “After he was arrested we discovered that there was a group of old designs in the home. And then through my visits to the prison I got the idea for a theme based on designs with Gulf Arab characters which were presented in the city of Ramallah.”

Rania Zughayyar did not hesitate to talk about the sense of bitterness and sorrow she feels about her brother Ashraf being in prison. She said that the Israelis have limited ambitions and dreams as a fashion designer, but added that the designs that have gotten out to fashion shows have brought a great deal of joy to the hearts of the larger family.

Ashraf Zughayyar is not reachable by telephone in Israeli prison, but his sister told PNN that he is now studying political science.

A close family, the Zughayyar’s say that their relationship remains strong even under the difficult circumstance. Rania said that a glimmer of hope remains between Ashraf and his family because, although he cannot get out, the young creator’s designs for the freedom of Palestine can.