Friday 22 November 2019

Enda Kenny 'pleads' with Egyptian President to release jailed Dubliner

Ibrahim Halawa is still in jail
Ibrahim Halawa is still in jail

Allison Bray

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has personally pleaded with the Egyptian President for the immediate release of jailed Dubliner Ibrahim Halawa on humanitarian grounds.

As more than one hundred supporters of the 21-year-old student from Firhouse, south Dublin held a candle-lit vigil outside Leinster House this evening, it emerged that the Taoiseach has written to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pleading for Mr Halawa’s release.

“We are very concerned about it and it is receiving the most urgent attention of any Irish citizen abroad,” Mr Kenny revealed in the Dail.

Mr Halawa, the son of Muslim cleric Sheikh Hussein Halawa, has been incarcerated without trial for almost four years after being detained during Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo in 2013.

He is due to appear in court in Egypt tomorrow along with hundreds of others who have been detained as they await a mass trial, which has been postponed more than 20 times.

In the meantime, Mr Halawa’s family is growing increasingly concerned for his well-being after he embarked on a hunger strike several weeks ago and is dangerously emaciated.

Despite this, his sister Fatima, (26), said officials at Wadi al Natrum prison won’t even allow him to sit in a wheelchair.

“He deserves to be back home amongst his friends and his family,” she said at the vigil where Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone presented a petition with 5,000 signatures urging the young man’s release.

In the meantime, an Irish GP who sat in on a medical exam of Mr Halawa by a prison doctor during a meeting with Irish ambassador to Egypt Damien Cole last week, has also urged he be released on humanitarian grounds and returned home immediately to undergo medical tests.

Mr Halawa’s sister Somaia revealed he collapsed on Sunday and was rushed to the prison clinic after his blood sugar level plummeted but he refused glucose treatment after regaining consciousness. He was also said to be suffering dehydration and vomiting.

Despite their brother’s deteriorating condition, the Halawa family is still hopeful he will be released.

“We definitely have hope. You can tell the level of support that there is today and this petition has been signed,” Fatima said.

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