Irishman jailed in Egypt over protests tells of discovering humanity in everyone
An Irishman jailed in Egypt for the past three years over political protests has said his incarceration taught him to find humanity in everyone and disregard revenge.
Ibrahim Halawa penned the letter to his family last week as he marked the date he should have graduated from college in Dublin.
He was imprisoned in Cairo in 2013, aged just 17, after being detained in a mosque near Ramses Square as the Muslim Brotherhood held a "day of rage" over the removal of their elected president Mohamed Morsi.
He is awaiting a new court appearance next week after hearings were adjourned more than a dozen times, with the latest to allow for video footage of protests to be reviewed.
Mr Halawa wrote to his family saying September 22 should have been the day his parents had lived their lives to see.
Instead he said he was refused proper medical treatment for severe chest pains and had his head forcibly shaved.
"Today while every graduate throws their graduation hat in the sky to come down with the long waiting dream, I don't see the sky. Because I'm enrolled in a different college," he said.
"A college I did not know I had applied for when I chose to fight for freedom. A college that kidnapped me from life to teach me the principles of real life. A college full of lessons. A lot of which I have learned in dark mornings and nights."
Mr Halawa should have spent the last three years studying engineering.
His family claim he has been tortured, suffered electric shocks, beatings, being spat on and moved without their knowledge during his time in custody with several hundred others over the protests.
He wrote how he shares a dormitory cell with 30 others and has a sleeping space just over one foot wide.
But in the letter, titled Graduation Speech, Mr Halawa revealed he has a learned a deep sense of compassion for others while in prison and an appreciation of the simple things in life.
"In this college I'm obliged to live with a broad diversity of inmates. From presidential consultants and college professors to illiterate criminals which taught me to seek the real human being behind every social rank," he said.
"I have learned that absolutism is an invalid way to judge humans, humanity is all about relativism.
"It is a college where the hardest subject is 'finding the forgiveness', as I must stay as a freedom fighter and never became a revenge hunter.
"Even though after all these years my oppressor is yet not convinced to let me graduate from his prison and go home. W hile for others it's graduation night out, for me it's graduation lights out. "
The Halawa family and their lawyers in Belfast-based firm KRW LAW have attempted to secure a presidential decree for Mr Halawa's freedom.
His case is due back in court on October 2.
Sister Somaia said: "Ibrahim's letter leaves no room for more to be said, however it has been 35 days since the presidential decree of law 140 was submitted for Ibrahim, after three years of campaigning for Ibrahim's freedom this is our biggest hope.
"It is time for the Irish Government to increase the level of pressure so that decree is as effective as it should be."