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Sunday 21 January 2018

Freed sisters find it 'hard to be hopeful' for teenage brother's release

Fatima and Omaima Halawa at a protest for their brother's release.
Fatima and Omaima Halawa at a protest for their brother's release.
Ibrahim Halawa with sisters Fatima, Omaima and Somaia who were among hundreds of people forced to leave the Al Fateh mosque in Cairo by Egyptian security forces.

The Irish sisters who were freed from an Egyptian prison in November said they are finding it "hard to be hopeful" for their brother's release, around five months after he was imprisoned.

Sisters Fatima, 23, Somaia, 28, and Omaima, 21, Halawa were imprisoned in Egypt last August while spending their summer holidays with family in the city. They sought refuge at the al-Fateh Mosque in Cairo during a day of protest against the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi. Their brother Ibrihim, 17, remains in prison there and has not had direct contact with family in Ireland.

Speaking during a protest organised outside Dublin's General Post Office, Omaima said the family are finding it hard to maintain hope for their brother's release in the near future.

"It's hard to be hopeful. We don't know what direction it will go in," she said.

According to the family, Ibrihim will be kept in prison for at least another 45 days after a mass hearing along with around 200 people. Fatima said the family were not expecting that and it came as a big shock to them.

"We can't get back to [normal life]. It feels unfair without him," she said.

The siblings have not yet opened up about their prison experience, saying their main focus now is to get their brother home.

The girls mother regularly visits Ibrihim in Egypt and will return to the African nation to visit her son in prison tomorrow.

The sisters returned to Ireland in late November following a three-month detention without charge.

The four Halawa siblings are the children of Sheikh Hussein Halawa, Ireland's most senior Muslim cleric and the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh.


Irish Independent

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