Saturday 3 December 2016

Ibrahim's two-year detention says much about Egypt today

Mary Fitzgerald

Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30

Ibrahim Halawa’s sisters, from left, Fatima, Omaima and Soumaia, during a protest outside Leinster House.
Ibrahim Halawa’s sisters, from left, Fatima, Omaima and Soumaia, during a protest outside Leinster House.

On the night of August 17 two years ago I received a call from a panicked friend of Ibrahim Halawa and his three sisters.

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The friend had just heard the siblings give anguished phone interviews to an Arab TV channel from inside a Cairo mosque which was being besieged by Egyptian security forces. I called the Irish ambassador to Egypt, Isolde Moylan, and informed her four Irish citizens were stuck inside the mosque. I also passed on their mobile phone number so she could make contact with Ibrahim, then 17 years old, and his older sisters Soumaia, Fatima and Omaima.

Sheikh Hussein Halawa, father of the siblings and imam at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI) in Clonskeagh, Dublin, says he advised his children to seek shelter in the mosque after fatal clashes broke out at nearby Ramses Square, where the Halawas had joined a thousands-strong protest against the army's overthrow of Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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