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Monday 5 December 2016

You'll be arrested if you ever set foot in Egypt, Halawa sisters warned

Courts

THE three sisters of Ibrahim Halawa could be tried in their absence for their involvement in Cairo protests in 2013.

Ibrahim Halawa (19) was arrested along with his sisters Somaia (29), Fatima (25) and Omaima (22) at the al-Fateh mosque in the Egyptian capital.

The newly-appointed Egyptian ambassador to Ireland, Soha Gendi, has accused the trio of "skipping the country" while on bail. If they are to return they will face re-arrest, she said.

Ms Gendi also ruled out any chance that the Egyptian government would interfere in the Dublin teen's case, as it is a judicial matter.

Mr Halawa was 17 when he was arrested during the protests and now faces a mass trial with 493 other defendants.

Sources said the charges he faces are of being present at the mosque, deliberately travelling to the mosque for the protest, barricading the mosque from the inside, and not accepting safe passage out of the mosque.

Ms Gendi claimed that the then Irish ambassador to Egypt, Isolde Moylan, had negotiated safe passage from the mosque for Halawa and his three sisters.

"They should have accepted the safe haven they were offered," said Ms Gendi.

thugs

Mr Halawa's sister Somaia confirmed that embassy officials had told them by phone that their safe passage from the mosque had been guaranteed. However, she said they did not feel they could leave the building safely.

"There were thugs outside shouting that if we went outside they were going to kill us," she said. "There was also a curfew in place. We didn't have the right to leave. We believed that if we left at that time, they had the right to arrest us."

The new ambassador has also linked the siblings to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist organisation in Egypt and is outlawed there.

Ms Gendi also alleged that Ibrahim Halawa had been filmed saying: "I am here to help the Egyptians to create an Islamic state."

The ambassador described the siblings as "activists".

"These were a bunch of people who knew what they were doing," she said.

The sisters deny any involvement with the group and said that they joined the protests while holidaying in the country, where some of the family were born.

Their father is Ireland's most senior Muslim cleric, Sheikh Hussein Halawa.

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