Sisters Fatima, Omaima, and Somaia Halawa and younger brother Ibrihim are among hundreds of people being held by authorities in Cairo, with local reports suggesting they could face charges including attempted murder, possession of firearms, and being members of a militant group.
Yesterday their sister Nosayba, who is in Dublin, confirmed she had spoken with Irish consular staff in Cairo and with a solicitor in the Egyptian capital, with the latter claiming anyone arrested who had been in the mosque could face charges.
Nosayba said she had still not had the opportunity to speak directly with her brother or sisters.
Speaking in Brussels yesterday following a meeting of EU foreign ministers on the Egyptian crisis, Mr Gilmore said: “We don’t have any information about those reports,” adding “we’re going to watch the situation very closely”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said there had been no update since Tuesday’s meeting between the four members of the Halawa family and Irish diplomatic staff in the Egyptian capital.
The announcement yesterday of three days of national mourning as a result of 25 police officers being killed in Sinai is also likely to hamper contact with the siblings in the coming days.
Fatima, 22, Omaima, 21, Somaia, 27, and Ibrihim, 17, are the children of Sheikh Hussein Halawa, who is imam at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in south Dublin.
The four members of the Halawa family were on holiday in Egypt and sought refuge in the al-Fath mosque in Cairo last Friday afternoon amid raging violence on the streets. This followed a crackdown by the interim military-led administration against members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party of the recently-deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
About 300 people barricaded themselves into the mosque, which was then taken by force my members of the military.
Yesterday Nosayba was quoted as saying the possibility of charges being brought against her siblings was “ridiculous and stupid”. “We are very upset. When I got the news from the solicitor I thought, ‘Oh my God, what is happening?’,” she said. “We are still in the dark about what will happen. I am telling my father he must remain strong.”