Belfast Telegraph

Family pray for safe return of Irish detained in Cairo

By Lyndsey Telford

The family of four Irish siblings detained by Egyptian authorities are "hoping and praying" they will return home within days.

As the three young women and their teenage brother were due to attend a prosecutor's office with Irish officials, their sister Nasaybi Halawa said she still has grave concerns for their safety.

"We are just wishing and hoping and praying that they will arrive back today or tomorrow," said Ms Halawa, at the family home in Firhouse, south Dublin.

"We have been told that they are safe but that doesn't mean they haven't been harmed or beaten."

Sisters Omaima, 20, Fatima, 22, and Somaia, 27, and their 17-year-old brother Ibrihim, were caught up in violence in Cairo and jailed in Tora prison.

They had been among hundreds of people cleared out of the Al Fateh mosque when security forces stormed the building on Saturday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the siblings yesterday met a Turkish diplomat, who said they were safe and in good health.

Egyptian authorities at a prosecutor's office will now decide whether to release the three women and the teenager from prison and allow them to return home.

As dozens of protesters gathered at the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin demanding the Halawas' immediate release, their sister said the family had been left devastated.

Ms Halawa said her father Sheikh Hussein Halawa - the imam of Ireland's largest mosque - was trying to find hope.

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