Egypt’s MPs reject Irish parliamentary motion calling for Ibrahim Halawa’s release

Egyptian members of Parliament have rejected a motion issued by Ireland’s legislature that called for the release of Irish-Egyptian national Ibrahim Halawa, slamming the demand as interference in domestic judicial affairs.

Last month, the Irish Parliament passed the cross-party motion protesting the ongoing detention of Halawa, who was arrested with his three sisters in Cairo on August 17, 2013. Halawa has been charged with a litany of offenses that stem from his alleged participation in demonstrations at Al-Fath Mosque in Cairo’s Ramses neighborhood following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.

Asserting the dual national is a Muslim Brotherhood member in a statement issued on Monday, Egypt’s Parliament outlines the charges against those accused of being responsible for the August 2013 deaths of 44 people at Al-Fath Mosque, including premeditated murder, vandalism, thuggery, assaulting police forces, weapons possession and blocking the roads, according to a Parlmany report.

Egypt’s MPs rejected the Irish Parliament’s classification of Halawa as a prisoner of conscience, contending that the legislature’s motion contains a series of accusations against the Egyptian government and that Halawa’s fate rests with Egypt’s judicial authority.

“According to the Constitution which was ratified by a majority vote, the judicial authority is independent […] and issues its verdict according to the law,” the statement read, adding that “any interference in judicial affairs is a crime.”

However, the Egyptian Parliament stated that it welcomed “constructive dialogue” and the exchange of delegations to discuss “topics of common interest.”

Egyptian Ambassador to Ireland Soha Gendi declined an invitation to appear before the Irish House of Lords’ foreign affairs committee late last month to discuss Halawa’s case, according to Irish national service broadcaster RTE.

Halawa’s detention was extended for the 14th time on June 29 for a period that extends until October.

Last month, Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan said that the Irish government will support a second request by Halawa’s legal team to secure the Irish national’s release under the terms of a presidential decree issued in 2014 by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi providing presidential pardons and deportations for foreign nationals held in Egyptian prisons.

In December, the European Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to pass a resolution calling for Halawa’s immediate, with 566 members voting in favor, 11 voting against and 46 abstaining.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid issued a statement at the time, dismissing the resolution as an unacceptable violation of the Egyptian judiciary’s independence and Egypt’s sovereignty as a democratic country.

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