BBC News NI and the ‘family holiday gone wrong’

Documented facts do not support a BBC-promoted denial.

On October 28th the BBC News website posted a filmed report titled ‘I was whipped with metal chains in an Egyptian prison’ on its ‘Video’ page with the following one-line synopsis:

“For Ibrahim Halawa, what began as a family holiday in 2013 became four years in an Egyptian prison.”

The same video also appeared on the same day on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page with a longer synopsis. [emphasis added]

“For Ibrahim Halawa, what began as a family holiday in 2013 became four years in an Egyptian prison.

The Irish Egyptian student was arrested at a Cairo mosque after a sit-in protest descended into clashes with security forces.

He was accused, with 500 others, of inciting violence and sabotage. He was acquitted of all charges and release from prison in October 2017.

Speaking to the BBC Mr Halawa claims that while in an Egyptian prison he was physically and mentally abused, including being whipped with metal chains, stripped naked and hit with an AK47.

Before his imprisonment, Mr Halawa had taken part in protests against the military ousting of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

After his released he and members of his family faced questions about links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr Halawa denies claims that he or members of his family are members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The BBC contacted the Egyptian Government for a comment but did not receive a response.

Mr Halawa is now studying law at University College Dublin.”

The video is credited to Niall McCracken of BBC News Northern Ireland. According to McCracken’s Twitter feed, an additional report on the topic was aired on the ‘Good Morning Ulster’ programme on October 28th.

The details of Ibrahim Halawa’s case have been researched at length by Irish academic Dr Mark Humphrys but what should be made of the BBC’s amplification of Halawa’s claim that neither “he or members of his family are members of the Muslim Brotherhood”?

Ibrahim Halawa’s father is Hussein Halawa who, in addition to being a cleric  at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Dublin – aka Clonskeagh mosque – is also General Secretary of the ‘European Council for Fatwa and Research’ (ECFR) and has held that position for some considerable time.

The ECFR was created by the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe’ (FIOE) umbrella group and until November 2018 it was headed by Yusuf Qaradawi – a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The ECFR stated in 2018 that Hussein Halawa “presents a weekly call-in fatwa programme for Al-Hiwar channel in London”. Al-Hiwar was founded and is run by Azzam Tamimi who is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Notwithstanding those well documented facts, the BBC obviously considered it appropriate to amplify Ibrahim Halawa’s denials and his allegation that anyone raising questions about his family’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood does so out of racist motivation because he is “brown” rather than “blonde”, preferring instead to promote a superficial story about a “family holiday” gone wrong to its domestic and worldwide audiences.

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