EWTN Launches Arabic Language News Agency Based in Erbil, Iraq


EWTN Global Catholic Network has launched a new Arabic language news service headquartered in Erbil, Iraq.  EWTN Chairman & CEO Michael P. Warsaw announced the opening of the new agency on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation.  The Association for Catholic Information Middle East and North Africa or ACI-MENA will publish original news content in Arabic using a network of correspondents across the region. The news agency will operate from the campus of Erbil’s Catholic University (CUE). A ceremony marking the occasion was held in Erbil, which included His Excellency, Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil.

“I am pleased to announce that EWTN has begun a service reporting news from the embattled and underserved Christian communities in the Middle East,” Warsaw said. “This is an important milestone in the growth of EWTN News around the globe, and I am pleased that we are taking this significant step to better serve our courageous brothers and sisters in the region who have endured so much.”

“Because it is published in Arabic, this agency will also augment the service offered by ACI-Africa, our Nairobi, Kenya-based Catholic news agency, which EWTN launched in 2019 and which publishes content in English, French and Portuguese,” added Warsaw. “ACI-MENA will provide a new voice to help spread the Gospel and news of the Church to these Christian communities in their own language.”

ACI-MENA will be headed by Mr. Bashar Jameel Hanna, a Chaldean Catholic layman originally from Baghdad.

Hanna studied philosophy and theology for nine years at the Babel College in Iraq and graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Nantes in France. Hanna speaks Arabic, French, English and Aramaic fluently, and has a significant understanding of classic Arabic.

“When war came around to 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 in the Nineveh plains, to rebuild the church of Mosul. Then, late last year, I received a call for the position of Editor-in-Chief with ACI-MENA. And I heard the Lord say: ‘I took you from the ends of the earth; from its farthest corners I called you. I said, you are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. (Isaiah 41:9)’ Becoming ACI MENA’s Editor-in-Chief, to carry the message of love to the Arabic world still submerged in conflicts and persecution, may be a heavy cross… But He has risen!”

Alejandro Bermudez, Executive Director of the ACI Group of which ACI MENA is now a part said: "We are honored to expand our news coverage of the ancient and heroic communities in this region, providing them local, Vatican and world news in Arabic. ACI MENA will not be a simple translation of news in Arabic, but a local news agency written in Arabic for the Arabic speaking world, which will also bring stories of local Christian communities to the rest of the world. This is a major step forward for the ACI Group as well as for the larger EWTN News family."

ACI-MENA is the latest addition to the ACI Group, which includes ACI Prensa, the world's largest Spanish-language Catholic news organization with headquarters in Lima, Peru; ACI Digital, the São Paulo, Brazil-based news organization, which serves the Portuguese-speaking world; ACI Stampa, the Italian-language news organization 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 news outlets, including the National Catholic Register, EWTN News Nightly, 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 TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 390 million television households in more than 150 countries and territories. EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; one of the largest Catholic websites in the U.S.; and EWTN News; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing division.