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Ibrahim Halawa
Gender Male
Birthplace Dublin, Ireland
Born 1995 12 13
Nationality Ireland
Ethnic Irish
  Eygptian
Job Prisoner of Conscience
  Irish Muslim
Desc Ibrahim Halawa was 17 when he travelled to Egypt in 2013. He and his sisters took part in protests held against the ousting of then president Mohammed Mursi. He and his sisters took refuge in the Al Fateh mosque when violent clashes erupted but became trapped there. When the military stormed the mosque, Mr Halawa was among those taken away, along with his sisters Somaia, Omaima and Fatima Halawa

Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience, saying there was no credible evidence against him. Ibrahim Halawa’s case was part of a mass trial which went on to be delayed an incredible 28 times

Affiliation

Org Amnesty International
  House of Halawa

Relationship

Father Hussein Halawa
Sister Somaia Halawa
  Omaima Halawa
  Fatima Halawa
  Nosayba Halawa
Friend Pete Moloney
  Baher Mohamed
Lawyer Yasmeen Said
Enemy Abdel Fatah al-Sisi
Schoolteacher Codie Preston

Education

Primary School Holy Rosary Primary School
Secondary School Rockbrook Park Secondary School
University Trinity College
1995 12 13
Ibrahim Halawa was born
2013 08 16
Ibrahim Halawa was arrested. It is a day of violence centred around a mosque in Cairo’s central Ramses Square. Dozens were killed and scores wounded in clashes between Mohammed Morsi supporters and police

2015 12 13 Retrieve

[An extract from a letter Ibrahim Halawa wrote from jail in November 2015, as he began a hunger strike] I write with a ticking clock closer to my death. For the past two years and three months I have been imprisoned unjustly. I am waiting for my turn on the death rope. My only crime is being innocent. I have waited for the Egyptian government to prove otherwise but it hasn’t

2016 06 02 Retrieve

[Some of the methods used in an Egyptian prison] Men covered in honey and tied to trees so they are attacked by insects. They crucify men. They hold a man’s arm against the curb and you hear it break when they kick it

[A letter he wrote to them in the last week to mark the 1,000 days] One thousand days that have felt like 1,000 years. Not only for me but for hundreds behind bars. One thousand days for something I believe people should be able to live in just as I do back home, in a free democratic country. One thousand days and 1,000 more if it takes to be free. Some have lost hope and written THE END on their story, but I leave many blank pages to be filled

2016 09 Retrieve

Each time you are transferred to a new prison, there is something called ‘the party’. They show you who’s boss. In most cases it’s beatings, but in one, we were stripped, told to lie down facing the ground with our arms behind our back, and they started to jump on our backs, from one prisoner to the next.

It’s normal to be cursed, stripped naked, beaten with a bar, or put in solitary confinement or the ‘tank. (a pitch-black 3.5m x 5.5m cell). They might also torture another prisoner in front of you. Of course you never forget. Ever

2017 09 18
Ibrahim Halawa was acquitted of all charges
2017 10 24
Ibrahim Halawa return to ireland. An Irish flag is draped across his shoulders. His best friend, Pete Moloney, from school pushes through the crowd and as they hug, Halawa wraps the flag around them. Behind him, silver balloons spell out innocent

2017 10 24 Retrieve

[Mr Ibrahim Halawa was released and reunited with some of his family last Thursday after being acquitted of all of the charges against him][At Dublin Airport] I want to thank the president; I want to thank the Irish government for working so hard; I want to thank the Irish people … thank you all for your support - it means a lot to me. I’m a free man, acquitted after four years. I’ve left a lot of cellmates behind - there’s still a lot of innocent people behind bars around the world, not just in Egypt. I am going to hopefully be working to help release all the innocent people around the world

2017 11 03 Retrieve

[at The Late Late Show] Of course I’m not with the Muslim Brotherhood, I don’t support the Muslim Brotherhood, I don’t support their ideology. As a 17-year-old you don’t even know what a Muslim Brotherhood is. You don’t know what an organisation is basically other than a human rights organisation. I was in prison with them of course. And I differ with them so much on a lot of points, so much points

[Addressing rumour about he tore up his Irish passport while protesting in Egypt] I was actually in prison when I heard that rumour. There’s a few rumours about the same rumour - that I ripped my passport, that I burnt my passport, that I threw away my passport. … No. I didn’t. I was in prison when I heard the story. At the time there was an American citizen who … was in Isis in Syria who was ripping up his passport … They had a video and that was about the same time I heard the rumour. And I was just like - I’m not blonde, I don’t have blue eyes, and I’m definitely not in Syria with Isis … I was with the prosecution. He was like, ‘we need your passport for you to be treated as an Irish citizen, for you to get consular visits, for your family if they’re coming from Ireland and use their Irish identification. … So it’s with them and whoever said my Irish passport was torn up they would look so bad because I’m trying to get it back right now

[By his own account, Ibrahim Halawa and his sisters had travelled to Egypt - where they had extended family - for a family holiday, and got caught up in the political turmoil] I didn’t know there was a political game going on in Egypt or nothing like that. [He soon found himself speaking at a rally in support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Halawa said that two of his friends had been killed in political violence while he was there and that had motivated him to become more engaged in what was going on] There was an Eminem concert that I wanted to go to at the time if anyone remembers that Eminem concert. So I was going to go there as a normal kid back to a concert. But I was going back to a concert and my friends were going to graves. So I just had to give my opinion about that

While you’re at the prison door you’re given a stick to batter you down. Then you have to run then you find this very long two rows of soldiers. One on the right and one of the left and you have to run through because every soldier has a different weapon that he’s going to beat you with

[In one instance, Ibrahim Halawa described being beaten in front of his mother while she was visiting him. His mother had heard that he was sick and Halawa tried to reassure that he was okay] I was being dragged because time was over for the visit. So I grabbed onto the bars and I was like ‘mom I’m okay don’t worry’. They dragged me and my mom started screaming mor … The guard was pulling me away from my mom and they started beating me up in front of her. And then my mom was screaming and I just want to resist. You forget the pain of the beatings but you remember the pain of your mother

2018 01 26 Retrieve

My story is over and I’m living my life now. I always try to raise awareness about other people who are just as innocent as I am. When I do these talks, I don’t want to just focus on my story

[Ending the meeting with a rallying call] Democracy wasn’t only made for Ireland. Democracy wasn’t made for ‘everywhere else’. Democracy was made for the whole world. Never go to bed without thinking: is there someone I can help?

2018 03 29 Retrieve

[Ibrahim Halawa on the RTE show in November after he returned to Ireland following a 1,497 day stint in an Egyptian prison] The biggest mistake of my life was sitting on that couch, twenty minutes on that couch could never justify four years of torment. I was being scrutinized; I wasn’t being brought to hear my story. I looked at the cameras and felt that no matter how much these cameras film for the next 28 minutes, they will never fulfill my four years and two months of pain. You get out of prison and they put you in another cell, it really kills you. There were times after where I would wish I could go back to my prison cell

[Irish Ambassador to Egypt, Sean O’Regan, gave him a warning as he walked out of Dublin Airport to face the media] He said Be careful because you are going to be used. But I thought, how could I be used, I was only a man who went to prison that was it

The moment I got to come back and say thank you was a massive privilege for me. The University of Limerick was one of the huge colleges that supported me, so I’m here to say thank you

In the darkness, we all need a torch. The fact you are all here today proves you have overcome something in your life, some form of darkness

The biggest mistake of my life was sitting on that couch [in The Late Late Show], twenty minutes on that couch could never justify four years of torment. I was being scrutinized; I wasn’t being brought to hear my story. I looked at the cameras and felt that no matter how much these cameras film for the next 28 minutes, they will never fulfill my four years and two months of pain. You get out of prison and they put you in another cell, it really kills you. There were times after where I would wish I could go back to my prison cell

[Ibrahim Halawa also said that the Irish Ambassador to Egypt gave him a warning as he walked out of Dublin Airport to face the irish media] He said, ‘Be careful because you are going to be used’. But I thought, how could I be used, I was only a man who went to prison that was it

[Despite some negativity surrounding the return, Ibrahim Halawa says that he has been moved by all of the people in Ireland who campaigned for his freedom] The moment I got to come back and say thank you was a massive privilege for me. The University of Limerick was one of the huge colleges that supported me, so I’m here to say thank you

[Ibrahim Halawa spoke about his time growing up in Dublin] Growing up in Dublin I was just a normal teenager, there was no different than me than any other person

2018 10 28

[Time has changed its meaning for him in the year since he arrived home, he says] It’s weird because the last year has gone very fast … but a year in prison was like 15 years

[The longest of his hunger strikes in prison was in protest at being denied anything to read: he went on to read a thousand books in the four years] I want my book to be my story, my voice. I find something special about writing - no matter what the diversity of pain or experience, or culture, people always write; they put

Prison has changed me. It made me who I am today. It showed me that humanitarian side of life that I would have never have seen otherwise. I had to notice these experiences were coming my way, and take advantage. Nothing can be harder than what I went through. When I meet someone and tell them that I’ve been to prison, how can they understand what it’s like to be a prisoner of conscience? I have to prove what I’m capable of, what I’ve become. I’m working with a lot of youth and in schools. With young people, when they see you’ve been through a hardship, they listen. My story is about moving from darkness to light

[The most significant change within himself in the last year came about as a result of his appearance on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show last November. He was questioned about rumours he was involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he had ripped up his own Irish passport. After that interview, he decided that he wasn’t on principle going to be forced to defend himself and his actions again] I shouldn’t have been put in that position. That’s what I’m doing now: I’m allowing people to see what I’m capable of, and what I will do. I decided I’m going to tell my story from my own point of view

I’m back in my old bedroom. They left everything the same way. I had to redo it in order to move on, not to live in the past [His bedroom was light blue, but they had to repaint the walls when he got home as it was the same colour as a prison cell he’d occupied] I said to my Mum recently

[People continue to speculate why Ibrahim Halawa’s father, Sheikh Hussein Halawa, Imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Dublin’s Clonskeagh, kept a low profile] He’s not as good an English speaker, and we have a big family, so my father had to work to keep the food on the table … My three sisters couldn’t go back to Egypt once they were released, so they did the job here, and my other sister, brother and mother visited me

[When he meets people for the first time he often gets ‘the face’, as he calls it: people always want to know what happened, as though there is more, always more, to be uncovered] I make people make jokes about it. I love a prison joke … People get comfortable when you make them laugh, and they get to be who they are. You can still talk about hardship, but also laugh - to show them you can once again laugh

[The hunger strikes, Ibrahim Halawa says now, showed his captors that they could not have full control over him] That was when the guards gave you attention. As an oppressor, they want to hurt you. When you show that you will hurt yourself … then they pay attention

2018 10 29
Ibrahim Halawa and his Belfast-based solicitor, Darragh Mackin, are speaking at an Amnesty event as part of the Belfast Arts Festival

2019 07 21 Publish

My case is not like Lisa Smith’s case at all. Obviously, she made the blunt decision to go and join Islamic State, whereas I was wrongly imprisoned - but during my time in an Egyptian jail I came in contact with a lot of the same type of people responsible for recruiting Lisa