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Saturday 24 February 2018

Teenager Ibrahim sketches picture of prison hell in Egypt

The prison drawing sketched by Dubliner Ibrahim Halawa
The prison drawing sketched by Dubliner Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

Joanna Kiernan and Laura Larkin

A Dublin teenager imprisoned in Egypt has painted a heartbreaking depiction of his situation.

Ibrahim Halawa (19) - the son of Ireland's most senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Hussein Halawa - was just 17 when he was arrested alongside his three older sisters in Cairo in August 2013 during a day of protest following the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi.

While his sisters have since been released, he has remained imprisoned awaiting trial.

Ibrahim's prison drawing was shared by his sister Somaia with the Herald in the hope that it might bring an increasing awareness to Ibrahim's prison ordeal following the postponement of his mass trial for the fifth time.

In the drawing, Ibrahim depicts two officials - an Irish and Egyptian - talking to each other about his impending court case.

Somaia said their fight to get her brother home continues.

READ MORE: 'It's my duty to speak up for missing student Ibrahim,' reveals worried teacher

"This drawing shows how helpless Ibrahim feels about his situation it is heartbreaking for us his family to see.

"Ibrahim expresses his thoughts through this drawing describing his mockery trial where the Irish government still wished for a fair trial although (the) Egyptian judicial system proved the complete opposite of fair," his sister said.

"He has done nothing wrong and we are out but still he is there and for how much longer?

"We want our boy home," Somaia added.

Ibrahim was born the Coombe Hospital in Dublin and has lived Ireland all of his life.

He was in Egypt with his family for the summer following his Leaving Certificate, before his arrest. The Halawas sought refuge at the al-Fatah mosque in Cairo's Ramses Square when security officials began firing on protesters. The mosque was later stormed by the Egyptian police and the occupants arrested.

Ibrahim's sisters - Somaia (29), Fatima (23) and Omaima (21) were released from prison November 2013 and returned to Ireland. However, Ibrahim, who was a child under Egyptian law when arrested, has had his detention period extended on a number of occasions and is now facing a mass trial which includes 493 other defendants.

The Department of Foreign Affairs have been working with the Halawa family since Ibrahim's detention in August 2013.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has also raised Ibrahim's case with the Egyptian authorities.

However, the Halawa family, as well as a number of their most high-profile supporters - which include the former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter - are urging the Irish government to make an official request for the teenager's release.

Ibrahim was due to stand trial on five occasions but each trial collapsed due to overcrowding in the courtroom.

Last month the teen was moved from Torah prison in Cairo to Wadi El Natrun. His sister Somaia said that it was notorious in Egypt for its harsh treatment of prisoners.

On April 26, the Tallaght teenager will face his sixth trial date amid fears that he will be sentenced to the death penalty.

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