Religious Freedom Needs To Be a Tenet of Qatar Diplomacy


Rev. Majed El Shafie wrote to the U.S. Congress Foreign Relations & Foreign Affairs committees about the need to make religious freedom a tenet of Qatar diplomacy.

June 12, 2017

Dear Chairman Corker, Senator Cardin, Chairman Royce and Representative Engel,

The recent accusations against Qatar as a state sponsor of terrorism and severing of diplomatic ties by its neighbors reminded me that in just over 4 years Doha will host the World Cup. Since it was awarded this prize in 2012, FIFA’s decision has been mired in controversy.

The issues regarding the notoriously corrupt FIFA are well understood. I am writing about two other issues that the world must not lose sight of:

  • The brutal conditions the Qatari stadiums’ migrant builders are forced to work in, directed by a government that is exploiting this workforce in ways akin to slavery, with extraordinary death rates; and
  • The Qatari constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and relies on Sharia to serve as the foundation for the development of laws. Reports indicate Qatar TV has aired sermons containing anti-Semitic language, Qatari funded publishers produce anti-Semitic books and even a high-ranking Minister penned a forward of a poetry book containing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. According to Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List, Qatar ranks 20th of the most difficult nations to be a Christian. It remains a capital offense to convert from Islam and a conviction for blasphemy and proselytizing can garner a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

It may be too late to take the World Cup away from Qatar. But we should work together to pressure organizations such as FIFA – many of which have safely hidden behind Teflon-coated claims that global issues such as terrorism financing, labor rights and freedom of religion are none of their concerns – to make such issues front and center in any bid. After all, hosting the World Cup puts the global spotlight on the host country and its leaders.

As a victim or torture and persecution, I founded One Free World International to give a voice to those facing persecution and to work towards a world where all people can live free and worship as they believe. I respectfully request you make religious freedom a tenet of your approach as you deal with Qatar and, as importantly, with organizations such as FIFA.


Rev. Majed El Shafie Founder and President One Free World International

CC: The Honorable Jim Risch, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism

The Honorable Tim Kaine, Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism The Honorable Christopher Smith, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

The Honorable Karen Bass, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa

The Honorable Theodore Deutch, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa

The Honorable Trent Franks, Co-Chair, International Religious Freedom Caucus The Honorable Juan Vargas, Co-Chair, International Religious Freedom Caucus The Honorable Gus Bilirakis, Vice-Chair, International Religious Freedom Caucus The Honorable Jeff Fortenberry, Co-Chair, Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus

The Honorable Anna Eshoo, Co-Chair, Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus

The Honorable Randy Hutlgren, Co-Chair, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

The Honorable James P. McGovern, Co-Chair, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Medical Supplies Delivered to Iraq & Syria


OFWI helps deliver $500K of medication and medical supplies to Iraq & Syria

OFWI in partnership with Food for the Hungry Canada has just delivered 1.25 tons of medication and medical supplies worth $500,000 to Iraq and Syria. The supplies were delivered to the Red Crescent Society and are being distributed throughout Iraq and Syria, including to Rojava and Aleppo.

These supplies will help treat 20,000 Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in refugee camps throughout the region, as well as those on the front lines fighting ISIS for the next five months.

Thank you to all of OFWI's supporters who donated to our campaign to making this delivery a reality. Your donations are making a difference and offering hope to the people facing persecution in Iraq and Syria. We could not have delivered these desperately needed supplies without your support.

Canada needs to bring Mr. El Attar home


Canada needs to bring Mr. El Attar home

Non-partisan coalition calls on the Government of Canada to take the steps necessary to secure Mohamed El Attar’s release from prison and return to Canada.

Watch The March 9 news conference.

OTTAWA – One Free World International held a news conference in Ottawa today calling on the federal government to act to bring Mohamed El Attar home to Canada. Wrongfully convicted on trumped up charges of spying for Israel in 2007, Mr. El Attar has been languishing in Egyptian prison.

After nearly a decade behind bars, Canadians are speaking out to renew the effort to advocate for his release and return him home to Canada. OFWI is calling on the Government of Canada to:

  1. Fight for Mr. El Attar’s rights and request his immediate release from Egypt and return to Canada.
  2. Update Canadians on their effort to secure Mr. El Attar’s release.
  3. Commit to advocating for Mr. El Attar’s rights and release at all meetings and forums where Canada engages with Egyptian government.

One Free World International, led by President and Founder Majed El Shafie was supported at the news conference by a non-partisan distinguished group of parliamentarians and retired public officials:

  • Hon. Peter Kent, PC, MP, Official Opposition Foreign Affairs Critic
  • Hélène Laverdière, MP, NDP Critic for Foreign Affairs
  • Elizabeth May, MP, Leader of the Green Party of Canada
  • Hon. Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, Founder & Chair of Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, Former Attorney General of Canada & Minister of Justice
  • Andy Ellis, retired Assistant Director, Operations, CSIS


Mohamed El-Attar Biographical History

  • Born in 1970 in Cairo, Egypt.
  • In 2001, El Attar was arrested in Cairo after crashing a car.
  • In 2002 he sought asylum in Turkey and was resettled to Canada as a UNHCR refugee.
  • Worked as a CIBC bank teller in Toronto.

15 Year Prison Sentence – Convicted of Spying for Israel

In 2007, El Attar flew to Egypt to see family and friends but was promptly arrested upon his arrival on trumped up charges of spying for the Israelis.

On April 20, 2007 he was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in Egyptian prison.

The trial took place in a secret National Security court, which has been widely decried by rights activists in Egypt who generally support trying civilians in proper criminal courts where they have the right to appeal.

There is no possibility for appeal in his case, and now only a pardon from the Egyptian President would change the fate of El Attar.

Forced Confession Under Torture

His lawyer stated that El Attar confessed when the Egyptian authorities presented him with copious amounts of evidence against him. El Attar later stated that he confessed only after days of torture. Allegedly he was forced to drink his own urine, was given electro-shock therapy, and his family in Egypt was threatened. There is no official evidence that El Attar was tortured, even though tactics such as torture are commonly used in Egypt. El Attar’s conviction was exclusively based on his confession extracted through torture.

In an interrogation transcript, El Attar allegedly admits that he was paid $500 for each espionage report he filed on the Toronto Arab community. Allegedly, El Attar was prompted by Israeli authorities in Turkey to convert to Christianity and to help recruit people to spy on Egypt. According to El Attar’s lawyer, there is little evidence against him in this case.


CYAC Federal government announcement of Yazidi resettlement welcomed; but leading human rights and refugee support organizations left with more questions than answers

TORONTO – A group of non-governmental organizations, private refugee sponsors, Yazidi-Canadians, and concerned Canadians from across the country are announcing the launch of the Canada-Yazidi Action Coalition (CYAC) with a 5-point call to action for the Canadian government.

“Thousands of Yazidis are displaced and more must be done to help these victims of genocide,” said Hadji Hesso, spokesperson for the Canada-Yazidi Action Coalition. “While the coalition welcomes the news of future government action, the community is being left in the dark on details, underscoring the urgent need for a strong voice for our threatened community.”

Minister Hussen’s February 21 announcement of the Government’s response to the House of Commons unanimously adopted motion left Coalition members with more questions than answers. In the coming weeks and months, the coalition will continue to advocate for the plight of the Yazidis and will not stop until Canada has taken a number of steps to fulfill the moral obligation to respond to the Yazidi genocide.

Canadians interested in learning more can visit ofwi.org/cyac and are asked to sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/government-of-canada-must-support-yazidi-genocide-victims

Condemn violence wherever it occurs


standwithjewishcdns_banner On Sunday night a shooter entered a mosque in Quebec City and brazenly killed six men praying and injuring several others. One Free World International condemns this attack. Violence and hatred have no place in Canada.

As an international human rights organization, we are sadly all too familiar with the plight of religious minorities around the world. The pain we feel when Christian churches in the Middle East and Africa are violently attacked allows us to sympathize with the wives and children whose fathers and husbands were killed in Sunday's attack. Our condolences go out to them in this time of grief.

Our values of openness and respect for the dignity of each human being cannot be comprised. Hatred for others cannot be tolerated. We cannot accept or excuse an attack on a mosque in Canada.

We have welcomed people from around the world for generations and this strength of Canadian society. We must continue to have confidence in the Canadian people to defend and protect our values. Just as we have spoken up for Christians at home and around the world and combat anti-Semitism, we will speak out against those who perpetrate hate against our Muslim brothers.

Please say a prayer for those who lost loved ones in this attack on a place of worship. And join us in continuing to fight for justice and human rights around the world.

Sincerely, Rev. Majed El Shafie President & Founder One Free World International

Watch this CTV News report from inside the Quebec City mosque: