Halawa siblings to meet Egyptian prosecutor
The four Irish citizens are said to be in good health
The Halawas had also taken part in the weeks-long sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya, one of two encampments broken up by security forces last week with the loss of more than 600 lives. “They went to Rabaa to witness and record with pictures and video so that people can see that there are no terrorists among the protesters as the Egyptian authorities are claiming,” said their father, Sheikh Hussein Halawa, imam at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, which is located in Clonskeagh, Dublin. A number of other Irish citizens of Egyptian extraction had also joined the Rabaa protest in recent weeks, some of them members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a strong presence in Ireland.
Two weeks ago the Halawas’ sister Nosayba posted a video on YouTube showing her siblings address the Rabaa crowd against a banner reading “Egyptians Abroad for Democracy”.
In a July 28th Facebook post, Omaima wrote: “I’m still and will be until our democracy is back, until our religion is no longer attacked . . . because we only fear Allah not bullets.”
In the days after the violent dispersal of the Rabaa protest she posted numerous photographs of the dead and wounded, writing: “This was the place I met the most amazing people, this was the place that truly made me proud to be an Egyptian . . . because people’s hearts there are only for the sake of Allah then every single place in Egypt will be Rabaa.”
Sheikh Halawa said he advised his children to seek refuge in the al-Fath mosque after clashes that eventually claimed the lives of scores of people erupted in Ramses Square on Friday. “They thought the mosque is a holy place and that they would be safe there but soon it was surrounded by the security forces.”
Automatic gunfire and screaming could be heard in the background as Omaima gave interviews to TV channels including Al Jazeera from inside the mosque, describing scenes of chaos. On Saturday morning she told RTÉ she and her siblings did not feel safe enough to leave the complex without a diplomatic escort.
“We are surrounded in the mosque both inside and outside,” she said. “The security forces broke in and threw tear gas at us.” The siblings told Al Jazeera they were too frightened to leave despite the promise of safe passage by the military because they had witnessed other women being set upon by a baying anti-Morsi mob, some armed with wooden sticks, as they tried to get out. A US reporter at the scene said some within the angry crowd threatened to “get to” a woman who had been doing interviews with Al Jazeera from inside the mosque, a possible reference to the Halawa sisters.