Thursday 19 October 2017

'I wonder when will Enda Kenny ever get on to a plane?' - Irishman behind bars in Egypt urges Taoiseach to act

Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ed Carty, Press Association

AN Irishman jailed in Egypt for four years without trial has written an impassioned plea to Taoiseach Enda Kenny for his release after seeing another inmate being freed.

Ibrahim Halawa, 21, was incarcerated after being detained during Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo in 2013.

A mass trial involving him and hundreds of other alleged conspirators has been adjourned more than 20 times while the Irish Government pursues diplomatic channels for his return to Dublin.

Mr Halawa, who has been tortured and gone on hunger strikes, said he feels abandoned after Egyptian-US citizen Aya Higazy was released from jail.

"I am currently writing this with the most pain in my life but a worst pain has just attacked me, a mental pain... How much I feel abandoned," he wrote to his family.

"Tell me without hiding behind your finger, how do I feel towards my own government? The one I have hanged the flag of above me in my cell over my 35cm sleeping space.

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

"I hanged it even though they have left me to die in one of the worst prisons in Egypt without trying to move me. They have left me as a kid beaten and tortured to sit and watch all the other nationalities leave to their home."

Mr Halawa, the son of a prominent Muslim cleric in Dublin, Sheikh Hussein Halawa, was imprisoned after being detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo as the Muslim Brotherhood protested over the removal of elected president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.

He cited Ms Higazy's case and claimed her release happened after US President Donald Trump met Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in recent weeks.

She was a co-founder of the Belady Foundation for Street Children and was acquitted of a number of charges including inciting children to join protests.

"After nearly four years of imprisonment I still wonder what trust does the Irish Government have in the Egyptian judiciary system, proven people innocent after taking away three or more years of their lives," Mr Halawa wrote.

"I wonder when will Enda Kenny ever get on to a plane to save the Irish citizen? When will Enda Kenny make Irish citizens feel safe to fly abroad?

"Enda send your child to school and wait four years for them to return and see if they're going to call you dad again."

The letter, dated Sunday, also mentions the names of others arrested on the so-called Day of Rage who have since been released, including Peter Greste, the Australian journalist who was working for Al Jazeera covering the protests when he was detained.

The trial is due before the courts again on Wednesday.

The Taoiseach wrote a letter to Mr el-Sisi a month ago pleading for Mr Halawa's release on humanitarian grounds.

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