EWTN Launches News Agency for Middle East and North Africa in Arabic Language

The logo of the Association for Catholic Information in Middle East and North Africa (ACI Mena), EWTN's Arabic-language news agency based in Erbil in Iraq, launched on 25 March 2022. Credit: EWTN

EWTN Global Catholic Network has launched a news agency that is to publish news content sourced from the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic language.

The chairman and CEO of EWTN, Michael P. Warsaw, announced the launching of the Association for Catholic Information Middle East and North Africa (ACI Mena) on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Friday, March 25.

“I am pleased to announce that EWTN has begun a service reporting news from the embattled and underserved Christian communities in the Middle East,” Mr. Warsaw said about ACI Mena that is headquartered in the capital city of Iraq, Erbil.

He added, “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.”

“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,” EWTN Chairman and CEO said about the Catholic news service launched on March 25.


ACI Mena, Mr. Warsaw further said, “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."

Set to operate from the Catholic University of Erbil (CUE), ACI Mena is expected to engage a network of correspondents across the Middle East and North Africa under the leadership of Bashar Jameel Hanna, the agency’s Editor-in-Chief.

Editor-in-Chief of ACI Mena, Bashar Jameel Hanna. He is a Chaldean Catholic layman originally from Baghdad. Credit: ACI Mena

Speaking at the ceremony marking the launch of ACI Mena March 25, Mr. Hanna who studied philosophy and theology for nine years at Babel College in Iraq and graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Nantes in France recalled his background. 

He said, “When war came around to Iraq, I lost friends and relatives and became a political refugee in Europe.”

More in Africa

“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,'” he added making reference to the Prophet Isaiah.

Mr. Hanna who speaks Arabic, French, English, and Aramaic fluently, and has a significant understanding of classic Arabic further said, "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!”

The Executive Director of ACI Group, of which ACI Mena is now a part, described the launch of the news agency "a major step forward for the ACI Group as well as for the larger EWTN News family."

Executive Director of ACI Group, Alejandro Bermudez. Credit: ACI Mena

"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," Mr. Bermudez said at the March 25 event that was graced by Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil.


Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda. Credit: ACI Mena

"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," the Executive Director of ACI Group said.

Other news services that are part of ACI Group include ACI Prensa, the world's largest Spanish-language Catholic news organization that is headquartered 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. 

Credit: ACI Mena

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.

(Story continues below)

In its 41st year, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world. The Catholic entity’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.

Credit: ACI Mena

The platforms of EWTN also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM and FM radio affiliates.

Other EWTN platforms include 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.

Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla is ACI Africa’s founding Editor-in-Chief. He was formed in the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), and later incardinated in Rumbek Diocese, South Sudan. He has a PhD in Media Studies from Daystar University in Kenya, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Marist College, New York, USA.