ACI MENA will operate from the campus of the Catholic University of Erbil.
EWTN Global Catholic Network has launched an Arabic-language news service headquartered in Erbil, Iraq, EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw announced March 25 at the occasion of the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
The Association for Catholic Information in the Middle East and North Africa, or ACI MENA, will publish original information in Arabic using a network of correspondents throughout the region. The news agency will operate from the campus of the Catholic University of Erbil (CUE). A ceremony marking the occasion was held in Erbil, attended by Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil.
“I am pleased to announce that EWTN has launched a news reporting service from beleaguered and underserved Christian communities in the Middle East,” Warsaw said.
“This is an important step in the growth of EWTN News around the world, and I am happy that we are taking this important step to better serve our brave brothers and sisters in the region who have endured so much,” said he declared.
“Because it is published in Arabic, this agency will also augment the service offered by ACI Africa, our Catholic news agency based in Nairobi, Kenya, launched by EWTN in 2019 which publishes content in English, French and Portuguese” , added Warsaw. “ACI MENA will provide a new voice to help spread the Gospel and Church news to these Christian communities in their own language.”
Bashar Jameel Hanna, a Chaldean Catholic layman from Baghdad, will lead ACI MENA.
Hanna studied philosophy and theology for nine years at Babel College in Iraq and earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of Nantes in France. Hanna is fluent in Arabic, French, English and Aramaic and has a significant understanding of classical Arabic.
“When war broke out in Iraq, I lost friends and relatives and became a political refugee in Europe,” Hanna said. “Ten years later, I received a call to work on the reconstruction of the plains of Nineveh, to rebuild the church of Mosul. Then, at the end of last year, I received a call for the position of editor at ACI MENA. And I heard the Lord say, “I have taken you from the ends of the earth; from its remotest corners I called you. I said, you are my servant; I chose you and did not reject you’ (Isaiah 41:9.)”
“Becoming editor of ACI MENA, to bring the message of love to the Arab world still overwhelmed by conflict and persecution, can be a heavy cross… but He has risen!” Hanna added.
Alejandro Bermudez, executive director of ACI Group, of which ACI MENA is now a part, called the launch of the news agency “a big step forward for ACI Group as well as for the big EWTN News family”.
“We are honored to expand our media coverage of the ancient and heroic communities of this region, providing them with local, Vatican and world news in Arabic,” Bermudez said. “ACI MENA will not be just a translation of news into Arabic, but a local news agency written in Arabic for the Arabic-speaking world, which will also bring stories from local Christian communities to the rest of the world.”
ACI MENA is the latest addition to the ACI Group, which includes ACI Prensa, the world’s largest Spanish-language Catholic news organization headquartered in Lima, Peru; ACI Digital, the São Paulo, Brazil-based news agency serving the Portuguese-speaking world; ACI Stampa, the Italian language news agency based in Rome; and ACI Africa, which covers news from the African continent in English, French and Portuguese.
ACI Group is part of the larger EWTN News, Inc. division, which also includes Catholic News Agency (CNA), the German-language news service CNA Deutsch, and several other Catholic media, including the National Catholic Register, EWTN News every night, EWTN news in depth, and several other television news programs.
In its 41st year, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 global television channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to more than 390 million TV households in more than 150 countries and territories.
EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted via SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio and more than 500 national and international AM and FM radio stations; a global shortwave radio service; one of the largest Catholic websites in the United States; and EWTN News; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing division.