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World Council of Churches calls on Sisi to release Egyptian journalist

September 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has urged Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to release journalist Hesham Gaafar from prison for “humanitarian reasons”, Quds Press reported on Sunday. Gaafar is the head of Mada Foundation for Media Development and a former chief editor of Islam Online. He is charged with being a member of a banned group and receiving money from abroad illegally.

In the letter, the WCC said that Gaafar has been known for his commitment to humanitarian work and his positive participation in dialogue and cooperation between religions. “He worked in the fields of conflict resolution and women’s and children’s rights, while supporting stability in the country and the preservation of the nation and its people,” the council stated. The WCC consists of 345 churches from 110 nations and is based in Geneva. Its membership covers Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic, Protestant, Baptist and Lutheran churches.

The journalist was arrested along with the director of the board of trustees when security forces raided the Mada Foundation’s offices.

According to his wife and his lawyer, Gaafar is suffering from an enlarged prostate and optic nerve atrophy. After starting a hunger strike, his health condition deteriorated and he was moved to Qasr Al-Ainy Hospital. His wife, Manar Tantawi, thanked the WCC for its concern about her husband, but criticised the official religious institutions in Egypt, including Al-Azhar University, for not exerting any efforts to help release him.

“I did not hear any word from the Shaikh of Al-Azhar, who knows very well what my husband did for the sake of the country,” she told Quds Press.