Prominent Suez cleric and proclaimed spiritual leader of multiple Arab freedom movements, Hafez Salama, discounted rumours about his early demise, as associates close to the cleric corroborated the revolutionary figure was still very much alive on Thursday.
“Die with your rage,” Salama told members of the press who may be spreading rumours about his death, according to the state-run Al Ahram.
Further confirmation the sheik was alive came from his personal companion Sheikh Hussein Eid Magdy who spoke to the Youm7 newspaper.
Magdy assured the public Salama is in very good health and he was in Martyrs Mosque getting ready to pray.
The sheikh has been rumoured dead before. However, following the most set of recent rumours, young men flocked to the Martyrs Mosque to see if he was alive or not, according to Al-Ahram. When the men got to the mosque and found Salama alive and well, they joined him for prayers.
Salama is seen as a hero of the popular resistance in the Suez. He played an important role in the 2011 uprising, which led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
But he is no amateur to liberation campaigns, in the late forties, Salama joined a group known as Mohamed’s Youth and formed the first militant group in the Suez to fight the British forces in the city.
He was arrested by late President Gamal Abdel Nasser and later released in 1967. After his imprisonment, Salama formed the Association of Islamic Guidance in the Martyrs Mosque in order to support armed popular resistance against Israel in the War of Attrition from 1967 to 1973.
He was arrested again by late President Anwar El-Sadat in 1981 and released in the same year after his assassination, after which he claimed to have travelled to Afghanistan to support fighting against the Soviets in the 1980s.
In 2011, he travelled to Libya to support rebel fighters in their campaign against Muammar Gaddhafi. There he was called by fighters, “rayees mujahideen” or “president of the freedom fighters.”
Currently, Salama is focused on charity work.