It was the summer of 2013; a summer for one 17-year-old boy named Ibrahim Halawa that could easily be called the summer of hell. Ibrahim is an Irish citizen by birth, both his parents are Egyptian, but they had moved to Ireland for a better future and to raise their family with better opportunities. While growing up in Ireland, every summer, Ibrahim would travel to Egypt to visit his cousins. Ibrahim was into sports and enjoyed spending time with his friends as most teenagers do. He was very excited to see the school year's end. This meant two things to Ibrahim: 1. That he would soon be traveling to see his cousins; and 2. That when he got back he would be in his last year of school before going to college. This was an exciting time for Ibrahim, but that was all about to change for the worse.
Ibrahim traveled to Cairo to see his cousins in early June 2013. When he left Ireland, Egypt was a relatively safe by all external appearances, but inside Egypt there was a revolution brewing. What happened that summer would change the lives of the Hawala family forever.
President Mohamed Morsi's policies and his claim of absolute power from November of the previous year were begging to wear thin on the Egyptian citizens. Mass protests were starting to spring up everywhere. As a result, an ultimatum was issued on public television by Abdell Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt's Minister of Defense that Morsi either meet with the people to discuss and resolve their concerns or he would be removed from force within 48 hours.
President Mohamed Morsi was removed from power by Abdell Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt's Minister of Defense on July 3 of that summer. Violent clashes then surfaced between the newly installed government and Morsi supporters.
As the situation escalated through summer, what was being called the "Day of Rage" by the Muslim Brotherhood was to descend on Cairo's Ramses Square. This was organized by Brotherhood supporters as a response to the inserted Government's handling of the protest encampment in Rabaa al Adawiya, which is said to have left at least 600 to 800 people dead.
Ibrahim's cousins had convinced him and his sisters into going to the demonstration to watch. Please keep in mind that were talking about teenage children on holiday visiting their cousins. Hawala at the time was 17 and was about to start his final year of school. He wasn't even old enough to go to college yet.
When they arrived they found the situation was complete chaos. They decided to return back home but quickly realized that would be impossible as the chaos was growing out of hand and a 7PM curfew was imposed. Reports say the children managed to call their father in Ireland who was watching the scene unfold on television in complete horror. Knowing his children were caught up in the disorder and the potential trouble of the situation he advised them to take refuge in al-Feteh mosque.
The building was then encompassed by police, soldiers and protestors. Feeling helpless, Ibrahim's mother called the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to report their children and Irish citizens were trapped inside the building.
The Dublin Government contacted Sean Norton who was then Irish Consul in Egypt. It was Mr. Norton's second month on the job at the time. It was the most delicate and dangerous case the Consul's department had ever been involved in. by 3:00AM word had reached Isolde Moylan, Ireland's Egyptian Ambassador. She started calling all her contacts and eventually reached a brigadier who was responsible for Egypt's International Cooperation Section and the Interior Ministry.
A complex negotiation began to allow safe passage for the Irish citizens. To the Irish Ambassador safe passage was eventually guaranteed, but when Halawa and his sisters in the mosque were notified by the Ambassador, they informed the Ambassador that the army was shouting that if they leave they will be shot. In all the confusion of the moment Hawala, his sisters and several hundred protestors were arrested.
In the aftermath, Ibrahim's sisters were set free but Hawala remained imprisoned to this day. Intervention attempts by the Irish Government, various humanitarian groups and even the United Nations have not been able to set Hawala free. During his entire incarceration Hawala has not been allowed legal counsel or even to be able to speak for himself regarding his presence on that day.
Ibrahim's hand was reportedly shot during the raid of the mosque. He never received medical treatment for his injuries and his hand is now deformed. His sisters were all released and allowed to return back to their family in Ireland. However, Ibrahim remained a prisoner and was treated as a criminal. It has now been rumored that Ibrahim will very soon be sentenced to death. Please understand that going to prison in Egypt or in the Middle East is very different than how people are treated in the Western World. Prison conditions are very rough an inhumane. For example, it has been reported that Ibrahim was kept in isolation in a cell that measures 1meter by 1 meter. He has never been allowed to speak for his presence on the day in question in court. Ibrahim has not been allowed legal counsel. He has not been allowed to speak with his parents.
This situation is simply wrong on all levels. It is unacceptable in the day and age we live in that a minor and a human being can be treated in such a manner. Imagine 3 years in a 1 meter by 1 meter cell without ever once being allowed to speak for himself regarding why he was in the wrong place at the wrong time that day.
As human being to please take an interest in this matter. And Google it to find out more information. Though big media has not carried the story there are a number of Irish and UK papers that have reported on the situation. Please share this story with as many people as you can. This report will soon be followed by a formal petition against Egypt's handling of young Ibrahim's situation and request for Ibrahim's release. Your assistance in signing the petition would be greatly appreciated and may help to save the life of an innocent young man.
A number of people and entities who deal with these sort of matters have been contacted and there are some big groups getting involved. Our only wish is to build pressure, make people aware and to bring this young man back to his family in Ireland. Please do your part and share this article with as many people as you can. If you have ties to high level people do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org - your help is greatly appreciated and makes a difference.