Ibrahim Halawa yesterday arrived home to Ireland and a hundred thousand welcomes — and several new family members.
“The minute when I was on the plane and I saw the green land, it’s so green, it’s so beautiful. I haven’t seen the green in so long. I want to be with the Irish people,” he said.
“It’s just great to be back. I’m very happy. I’m very, very, very happy. I’m so excited to be home. It just feels great to be innocent. I’m as Irish as can be.”
Ibrahim was greeted by his family and friends, including schoolmates who have now graduated from college, and nieces and nephews, some of whom were only crawling when he last saw them.
“I left him [a friend] shorter than me. All the lads have grown. She [a relative] was a baby when I left, she was still crawling and now she talks and she runs. I’ve five new nieces and nephews that I’ve only seen now. It’s crazy.
“I’m back into a new world. I was taken away from life and then one second you’re back. It’s going to be hard to recover.”
Asked what will be his first meal on home soil, Ibrahim said: “Fish and chips, definitely.”
Aside from food, Ibrahim, who was 17 when he was imprisoned in Egypt, is looking forward to sleeping safely for the first time in four years.
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He thanked the media, politicians including Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, student unions, and human rights organisations for highlighting his case over the last number of years.
“It still feels like a dream,” he said. “This is the moment I’ve waited for four years, a free man, acquitted after four years.”
While he plans to take some time out of public life, he says he has many plans for his future, including helping homeless people in Ireland.
“I’m going to hopefully be working to help release all the innocent people around the world,” he said. “I’m going to be helping a lot of homeless people, I have a lot of plans for that.”
He also plans to release a book, much of which is already written.
Ibrahim said he spent years visualising his arrival to Dublin Airport.
He was buoyed by the letters, cards, and presents he received from people all around Ireland while he was in prison.
Ibrahim’s sisters, Fatima and Somaia, who were arrested at the same protest in Egypt but released and returned home to Ireland, have campaigned heavily for his release.
They said yesterday that they were overjoyed to have their brother home.
“It’s amazing we’ve thought of this moment for so long but nothing can compare to actually seeing him and physically touching him and being in his arms once again, it’s beyond describable,” said Fatima.
Ibrahim’s school friend Ramadan Duadu said he last spoke to Ibrahim, about their Leaving Cert results, four years ago — he himself will graduate from college soon.
“The last time I actually spoke to him before all of this happened, was four years ago, we were actually just discussing our Leaving Cert results,” said Ramadan. “It’s going to be really weird now coming back, we’re all graduating and he has to sort out his life.”.
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