IBRAHIM HALAWA, the Irishman recently released from an Egyptian prison after four years, has told Ryan Tubridy he got politically involved after two of his friends were shot dead.
Halawa appeared on Friday’s Late Late Show to give his first televised interview since returning to Ireland on October 24.
In 2013, he had been in Egypt on a family holiday when he was arrested for allegedly taking part in anti-government protests.
After four years and a mass trial, he was acquitted in September.
Tubridy showed footage of Halawa on stage at a demonstration during his initial trip to Epypt.
Explaining the clip, Halawa said: “I was saying in the rest of the video that I’m only up on stage and getting politically involved [because] I had two of my really close friends who were shot dead at the incidents before that.”
Saying he wasn’t politically active until then, he added: “Two of my friends died and I had to stand up for them. At the end of the video I’m like, ‘What do we want? Freedom. When do we want it? Now.’ It was my first time getting politically involved.”
Halawa said he didn’t agree with everything the then recently ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood stood for, but respected that they had been elected democratically.
He said he went to Tahrir Square, a gathering point for anti-Morsi protesters, to understand the other side of the argument.
He said: “So what I was saying is, ‘You want them out? Use the ballot box, don’t use a military coup and kill people.’”
Halawa’s interview received a mixed reception on social media, with some praising his courage while others thought his story inconsistent.
— martinmcmahon (@williamhboney1) 3 November 2017
I’m 100% sure the Egyptian legal/prison system isn’t easy, fair or up to any sort of international human rights standards BUT there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on, something doesn’t add up with this #IbrahimHalawa lad #LateLate
— Jonathan Courtenay (@johnnycourtenay) 3 November 2017
If Ibrahim Halawa was Pat Lynch from Galway; would the country have been up in arms?! #latelateshow ?✏
— Deric Ó hArtagáinTV3 (@deric_hartigan) 3 November 2017
Watching Ibrahim Halawa’s interview on the #LateLateShow, his story doesn't seem to add up!
— Kate McGrath (@Kate_McGrath1) 3 November 2017
— Electroboy (@PFQMUSIC) 3 November 2017
— Sarah Jane Hennelly (@SJHennelly) 3 November 2017
— Robert Barrett (@barrettrob) 3 November 2017
— Anthony O'Donovan (@anthonyodonovan) 3 November 2017
— Paul McKenna (@paullarry) 3 November 2017
— PadraigMacLochlainn (@PadraigMacL) 3 November 2017
Reading the tweets on #IbrahimHalawa, I never realised how many Irish people have gone through the same as him and can compare events... ?
— Emma Wheatley (@EmmaAWheatley) 3 November 2017