Saturday 20 January 2018

Halawa sisters return to Ireland

Jason Kennedy & Joanna Kiernan

Three sisters have returned to Ireland today after being held in Egypt for around three months.

Somaia (27), Fatima (23) and Omaima (21) Halawa along with their 17-year-old brother Ibrahim were detained in Egypt since August after protests in Cairo.

Ibrahim remains in custody in Egypt while his sisters were released from prison earlier this month.

This morning, friends, family and supporters gathered in the airport's terminal one to greet the sisters. The carrier flags and cheered when the girls walked through the doors. Fatima said they were all overwhelmed by the experience.

"We'd like to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr Peter Carpenter. There's so many people we want to thank. We really appreciate all the hard work," she said.

"We're just hoping for Ibrahim's release soon.

“We’re relieved, the excitement is overwhelming.

“We’re just thankful to everyone who has supported us and helped us, there are so many people. We’re just trying to take it all in.”

While the sisters were released two weeks ago following a three month detention without charge, their brother Ibrihim continues to be held in an adult prison outside Cairo, with his period of detention extended by 45 days on 16th November.

“We have applied for appeal and we still we didn’t get any answer on that,” Ibrihim’s older sister Nosayba said yesterday.

“I can’t describe how happy I am, but our happiness is not complete. Ibrihim is still there and my mum and sister are still in Cairo to be near him. We hope that we will all be here together soon and then our happiness will be completed.”

“We have had very strong and very good support from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the government,” Nosayba added.

“There are a lot of people who have helped us and I have got messages of support from all over Ireland. I want to really thank all of those people and ask them to keep supporting us and keep praying for Ibrihim until we have him home. He is only 17; he will be 18 on 21st of December.”

Their father, Sheikh Hussein Halawa, who is the imam of Ireland's largest mosque, said he would not like the girls to return to Egypt as there is "no security". He added that he was very grateful to everyone who helped get his daughters home safe.

"I feel very happy. These are my daughters. This is my heart. I would like to thank all the people who helped," he said.

Irish Independent

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