An Irish Imam has ‘urgent fears’ for the safety of his four children taken into custody by Egyptian police during disturbances in Cairo.

Hussein Halawa hasn’t heard from his children since a phone call from daughter Fatima on Saturday night when she said police were beating her.

Fatima and her two sisters and brother took shelter in a mosque when they were caught up in violent protests on the streets of Cairo.

They were arrested when police stormed the Al Fateh mosque in Ramses Square.

Hussein, imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin, has told the Irish Independent of his last conversation on Saturday night with his daughter.

She told him: “Papa, they are beating me, they are beating me.” The report says moments later, the line abruptly went dead.

Halawa’s wife Amina Mostafa has accompanied the four children on their annual holiday to Egypt. She is now desperately trying to make contact with them.

The Imam told the Irish Independent:

“On Friday, I heard from my daughter Omaima in the square. She said a plane dropped a bomb on them on the street. They entered the mosque and they prayed in the mosque and when they went out to go home everything was closed.

“From 7pm to 7am, everything is stopped in Cairo at night. The underground was closed, there were no taxis running. She entered the mosque and then the army and the policemen came.”

Halawa told the paper that the latest news he had heard was that his children were being held in Tora Prison.

He added: “They are in Tora in Cairo. A girl who was inside - and she got out because her uncle is a big man in the police - she was with them in the mosque.

“She said my daughters and my son were inside the prison with them. I phoned the Department of Foreign Affairs this morning and they told us they will meet them. I hope soon.

“My wife is very worried. I’d like to see what I can do here before I go to Cairo next week.”

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs is in ‘ongoing contact’ with the Halawa family and the Egyptian authorities.