Halawa family calls on Enda Kenny to act over Ibrahim prison fear
The family of Dublin teenager Ibrahim Halawa have called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make direct contact with authorities in Cairo and call for his release.
The 19-year-old student was arrested at a mass demonstration demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi at the al-Fath mosque in central Cairo in August 2013.
Halawa, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been charged along with 493 others with murder, attempted murder and destruction of public property following an attack on a police station during the demonstration.
But his family say he was not engaged in violence and was only exercising his right to free speech.
They are now growing concerned for him after his mother could not find him on Tuesday in the Cairo prison he is being held in while awaiting trial.
Ibrahim has appeared in court numerous times but the cases have been adjourned and he has been returned to the Wadi el-Natrun detention centre.
But when his mother went there this week she was told after a lengthy search that he could not be found, Ibrahim's sister Somaia (30) claims.
"I am calling on Enda Kenny directly to lift the phone and talk to authorities in Cairo," she told the Herald.
"If Enda Kenny's son or the son of Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan was arrested and put in prison in a foreign country they would have lifted the phone a lot sooner," she added.
"This case has been in Charlie Flanagan's hands for too long now without results, and it is time for the Taoiseach to take direct and immediate control of the situation," Somaia reiterated.
"Ibrahim is in the Wadi el-Natrun prison where he is held with death-row prisoners and murderers, and we have asked for him to be moved to the No 1 prison there so he can be with people he knows," Somaia explained.
"But when my mother went looking for him they said he could not be found."
Ibrahim is the son of Ireland's most senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Hussein Halawa.
He is the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh.
Ibrahim is next due to stand trial on April 26 and could face the death penalty if convicted.
His family protested outside Leinster House yesterday to call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to contact Cairo authorities personally.
In February, Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste was freed and deported from Egypt and flown to Cyprus, bringing an end to 400 days behind bars.
The Australian ex-BBC correspondent was arrested in December 2013 and tried on charges that included spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ibrahim was 17 at the time of his arrest and had just completed his Leaving Cert in Dublin that summer.
He was due to start college after his planned return from Egypt but has been detained since his arrest.
Last month Ibrahim painted a heartbreaking depiction of his situation behind bars.
In a prison drawing shared by Somaia with the Herald he depicted two officials - an Irish and Egyptian - talking to each other about his impending court case while Ibrahim is sitting in his cell.
In the drawing the Irish official wearing a tricolour hat says he doesn't want Ibrahim out.
"We want him to have a fair trial. We trust the Egyptian judicial system," he says.
"Don't you worry about him. He will have the fair trial. We have the best judicial system in the world," the Egyptian official is seen to respond.
"Ibrahim expresses his thoughts through this drawing," said Somaia.