Europe

Ibrahim Halawa: Irish politicians to visit Egyptian jail

Ibrahim Halawa
Image caption Ibrahim Halawa celebrated his 21st birthday in jail in December

A group of politicians from the Republic of Ireland will visit Ibrahim Halawa in jail during a trip to Egypt.

The delegation, led by Fianna Fáil's Seán Ó Fearghaíl, will raise his case during meetings with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

Mr Halawa, the son of Ireland's most senior Muslim cleric, was arrested during anti-government protests in Cairo in August 2013.

The 21-year-old's trial has been adjourned 17 times.

"The invitation is to meet with President al-Sisi and members of his government and indeed with the secretary-general of the Arab League," said Mr Ó Fearghaíl, speaker of the lower house of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament).

"In the course of these meetings we will be discussing a range of important, bilateral issues, and of course the issue of Ibrahim Halawa will be raised at those meetings."

The eight-person delegation, which left for the North African country on Monday, will also be holding talks on trade, transport and tourism.

Muslim Brotherhood

The Irish government has been lobbying for Mr Halawa's release and deportation to Ireland.

He has been charged, along with 463 others, with inciting violence, rioting and sabotage.

Image caption Mr Halawa's sister, Khadija, along with her husband and two young children, took part in a protest at Stormont in November

His family has denied claims that Mr Halawa is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest and largest Islamist organisation.

The Egyptian government has declared it a terrorist group, a claim the organisation rejects.

More than 1,000 people have been killed and 40,000 are believed to have been jailed since President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi led the military's overthrow of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected head of state, in 2013.

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