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Essayah Sari European Parliament

Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by Hamas armed forces in June 2006 on Israeli soil, has been kept hostage for almost 4 years with continued disregard for his basic human rights.

Initiator of the European Parliament’s Resolution calling for his immediate release, Sari Essayah MEP expressed her content for the large majority reached in today’s vote:
”The situation of Gilad Shalit is a humanitarian issue and the Joint Resolution of the political Groups underlines the fact that since being taken hostage nearly 4 years ago, he is kept in an unknown place in Gaza where he does not enjoy basic rights according to any humanitarian standards, including the 3rd Geneva Convention”, she said.

”It is from this humanitarian perspective that we demand the immediate release of Gilad Shalit. Meanwhile the minimum requirement is that the Red Cross and Gilad’s parents may be allowed to be in contact with him”, Essayah demanded.

”Gilad Shalit should not be made a bargaining chip by the terrorist organisation Hamas but should be released immediately. This is the message that the EPP Group wishes the High Representative Lady Ashton to take with her to Gaza during her forthcoming visit”, she concluded. Members from all political Groups in the European Parliament, except for the GUE/NGL Group, have signed a letter sent to Lady Ashton requesting her to raise the case during her visit to Gaza scheduled for Wednesday 17 March.

Sari Essayah MEP had invited Gilad Shalit’s father Noam Shalit to visit the European Parliament this week to inform Members of the case. During his visit, Mr Shalit met with the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.

Background information:

Terrorist organisation Hamas kidnapped 19-year old Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006 on Israeli soil. Since then he has been held in captivity, completely isolated, in an unknown location in Gaza.

Hamas has released a video tape of him as proof of him being alive. Negotiations on Gilad Shalit’s release have been conducted on several occasions. The latest request was to free 1000 Palestinians, among whom many have carried out terrorist attacks, from Israeli prisons.

Gilad Shalit is a European (French) and Israeli citizen. After the kidnapping, he was granted Italian nationality as well. Sari Essayah MEP participated in the European Parliament’s Delegation visit to Israel  in February. During this visit, the EP Delegation met with Gilda Shalit’s father, Noam Shalit, who has now visited the European Parliament.

Sari Miriam Essayah (born 21 February 1967 in Haukivuori) is a Finnish retired race walker and a politician, former Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Member of Parliament since 2015. She is the president of the Finnish Christian Democrats party. Her father is from Morocco.

During her sports career, Essayah competed mainly in 5 000 and 10 000 metres. In the latter, she won the World Championship in 1993 and the European Championship in 1994. She made seven national records, all of which are still standing.

After retiring from sports she entered politics and represented the Christian Democrats in the Finnish parliament between 2003–2007 but failed to get reelected in the election of 2007. She served as the Christian Democrats' party secretary from 2007 to 2009. Essayah was elected to the European Parliament in 2009 but failed to be reelected in 2014 despite her 61 000 votes. This left the Finnish Christian Democrats without MEPs in the 2014 election.[1]

Essayah was candidate in the Finnish presidential election, 2012. She came last with 2.47 percent of the votes.

In the 2015 Parliamentary elections, Essayah was elected to represent a newly formed constituency of Savonia and Karelia with over 11 000 votes.[2] She was later chosen to be the vice speaker of the Christian Democrats' Parliamentary group. In August, she was chosen the new chair of her party after her predecessor, Päivi Räsänen, retired from the position after over ten years.[3]


Representing  Finland
1987World ChampionshipsRome, Italy19th10 km47:30
1989UniversiadeDuisburg, West Germany3rd5000 m21:34
1990European ChampionshipsSplit, Yugoslavia5th10 km45:10
1991World Race Walking CupSan Jose, United States16th10 km46:20
UniversiadeSheffield, England1st10 km44:04
World ChampionshipsTokyo, Japan3rd10 km43:13
1992Olympic GamesBarcelona, Spain4th10 km45:08
1993World Race Walking CupMonterrey, Mexico2nd10 km45:18
World ChampionshipsStuttgart, Germany1st10 km42:59
1994European ChampionshipsHelsinki, Finland1st10 km42:37
1995World Race Walking CupBeijing, PR China12th10 km44:21
World ChampionshipsGothenburg, Sweden4th10 km42:20
1996Olympic GamesAtlanta, United States16th10 km45:02


  1. ^Candidates, Yle site for EU elections 2014. May 26, 2014.
  2. ^[1] Yle site for Parliamentary elections 2015. April 24, 2015.
  3. ^[2]

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