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Muslim prison board calls for Bassiouni’s release

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The National Muslim Prison Board of South Africa (NMPB) have joined their voices to the call for the release of South African Egyptian, Sheikh Abdus-Salaam Bassiouni and are appealing to the South African government to further negotiations.

“It is with great sadness that respected Sheikh Bassiouni is still unjustly detained in Egypt. We the ummah and the world at large, are calling for his immediate release. We will not rest until Bassioun is safely returned,” said the chaplain of the National Muslim Prisoners Board, Maulana Azim Khatieb.

Bassiouni remains detained in a Torah prison since December 2014 on suspicion for being a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The board has expressed their concern for the deterioration of Bassiouni’s health in prison. Bassiouni’s family have reported that their sixty-five year old father’s health remains critical at this point as the South African of Egyptian decent has only recently been allowed medical consultation throughout his time behind bars.

To get a better understanding of Bassiouni’s situation and his current experience during his detention, Khatieb urged all South Africans to remember what it was like living under the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

“Imagine what Bassiouni must endure. His unlawful detention comes as no surprise under the government who seized power from legitimate leader. Being very familiar with the infamous treatment of the Torah prison, we can only begin to imagine the toll and strain on Bassiouni both mentally and physically.”

Khatieb spoke honourably of the Islamic scholar, who has left a huge impact on the lives of Muslims in Gauteng, where he settled over a decade ago.

“From the time I met Bassiouni several years ago I’ve seen that he is most admirable for his humbleness and his high integrity. I know him as a senior alim for the Al Tawheed Islamic Centre, where they are responsible for rehabilitating the lives of Muslim offenders in Gauteng,” Khatieb added.

“When I met Bassiouni for the first time, I saw him attending to the poorest of poor individuals from the townships that came to him to embrace Islam. He cared for them and taught them about being responsible and great Muslims,” Khatieb said, further quoting from a Hadith.

“Allah (swt) calls on us to help one another in righteousness and piety and not encourage people to do evil. I am appealing to the government to exert more power to get him back, even if it means that we must protest at the Egyptian embassy, continuously. It is totally unacceptable for government to unlawfully detain individuals. We as South Africans know are all too well about the unjust treatment of human beings under an illegitimate government,” Khatieb continued.

The NMPB has branches in provinces across South Africa. According to Khatieb, the branch in Gauteng has been actively participating in protest actions to pressure government to continuous negotiate for Bassiouni’s release.

The NMPB aims to render effective spiritual care and to advance the relationship between the inmates and the Department of Correctional Services. For years Khatieb has focused his efforts to rehabilitate Muslim inmates and strived to create a platform for integration. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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