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Ibrahim Halawa, a now 25-year-old Irishman, spent more than four years of his life in prison in Egypt after he was arrested while on a family holiday in 2013. Then aged 17, Ibrahim was detained by the Egyptian security forces after he and three of his sisters were caught up in a siege at a mosque in Cairo in August 2013. The women were allowed to return home to Ireland within three months, but their teenage brother was kept in Wadi el-Natrun prison outside Cairo. The teenager was accused, along with nearly 500 others, of inciting violence, riot, and sabotage and faced a mass trial under threat of the death penalty. 1497 days/4 years later, Ibrahim Halawa was acquitted of all charges. He was released from Wadi el-Natrun on 20 October 2017, returning home to Dublin and his family. In March 2017, as a Medical Doctor, I was asked by the Irish Government to visit Ibrahim in the bleak, stark Wadi el-Natrun prison to establish his level of health and wellbeing. Ibrahim, then 21 was physically frail and fragile.
Today, I’m delighted to be joined by Ibrahim Halawa, now an undergraduate law student at University College Dublin, Sutherland School of Law. We talk about his experiences in Wadi el-Natrun and how, while you may not be able to change your circumstances, you can change how you respond to them. We explore Ibrahim’s inner resolve at such a young age, how his resilience grew, and how he derived strength from Victor Frankl’s Man’s search for Meaning and Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom during his incarceration. We talk about the Power of Forgiveness and letting go for a better future alongside the importance of never forgetting.
“If you’re ever put into such a condition, believe in something. Whatever it is, you have to believe in something, because it will pull you through.
– Ibrahim Halawa
This week on In the Doctor’s Chair
- Ibrahim’s experience in Wadi el-Natrun
- The cruciality of belief and the need for meaning
- The power of resilience
- The power of forgiveness
- The importance of memory
In the Doctor’s Chair
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