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Plea to free Dublin teen from Egypt jail

MEMBERS of the Egyptian community in Ireland have called on their homeland's government to release an Irish teenager who has spent the past seven months in prison.

Ibrahim Halawa (right) was only 17 when he was arrested in Cairo last August alongside his sisters Somaia (28), Omaima (21) and Fatima (23).

The siblings were detained after they sought refuge at the al-Fath Mosque in Cairo when a day of protest against the ousting of president Mohammed Morsi called by the Muslim Brotherhood turned violent.

Ibrahim's sisters were freed last November, but he has remained in prison.

His family and their supporters yesterday staged a protest in Dublin's O'Connell Street, pleading for him to be released.

They were also protesting against a ruling by an Egyptian judge who earlier this week sentenced to death 529 alleged rioters.

"Our brother should have been sentenced around three weeks ago, but they said no, out of nowhere they moved it to the criminal court," Fatima Halawa told the Herald.

"They have said that he killed protesters, burned down a police station, all these ridiculous claims.

"We were charged too. They have also charged 529 people with killing, and half of them weren't even there on the day," she added. Ms Halawa added that her mother has stayed in Cairo to be with her brother.

"She has to be there, to support him," she said.

"Irish people have always fought for their freedom. We are the voice of the voiceless."

Ibrahim's fate is in the hands of a judge, and his sister said she feared he may be sentenced to death.

SIBLINGS

The siblings are the children of Ireland's most senior Muslim cleric, Sheikh Hussein Halawa, the imam of Clonskeagh mosque.

In the case of the 529, the judge in the central Egyptian city of Minya refused to allow the defence to complete its cases or even admit the defendants' families or lawyers to court for the verdict.

The sentence, if carried out, would be the biggest mass execution from a single case in history.

LBYRNE@HERALD.IE


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