Muslim scholars in South Africa have welcomed the release of Sheikh Abdus Salaam Bassiouni from a long spell of detention in Egypt.
The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa released a statement on Tuesday saying it was relieved that the 65-year-old cleric‚ known for his social upliftment programmes‚ had been released.
Sheikh Bassiouni‚ an Egyptian born-cleric resident in South Africa for 25 years‚ was released from a Cairo jail in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He was detained without charge in Egypt in December 2014.
The sheikh‚ who holds Egyptian and South African passports‚ travelled to Egypt in 2014 with his family to attend his daughter Al-Zahra’s engagement. Shortly after arriving at Cairo International Airport‚ he and his son‚ Bilal‚ were taken into custody by the Egyptian authorities. They interrogated them about their political affiliations.
The son was released 20 hours later‚ but his father was detained‚ remaining in jail until his release this morning.
The Jamiatul Ulama said: “Sheikh Bassiouni is an elderly Muslim scholar‚ and a well-known community worker especially in some townships of Johannesburg. The organisation he founded‚ established and runs include pre-schools‚ feeding programmes and other socio-economic empowerment programmes.
“We take this opportunity to thank the South African diplomatic mission in Cairo for extending consular service to Sheikh Bassiouni. Many individuals and organisations worked tirelessly in order to secure Sheikh Bassiouni's release. Their spirit of solidarity and commitment to see that justice is done is commendable.
“We reiterate our appeal to the Egyptian government to release all detainees held as prisoners of conscience as a way towards national reconciliation.”