Raed Salah awaits UK deportation after entering despite ban
Home secretary says sheikh "excluded for his anti-Semitic views," probes how he got into country.
By J. PAUL, L. HARKOV, B. HARTMAN
June 29, 2011 15:47
Sheikh Raed Salah 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, has been detained by the UK Border Agency and is set to be deported, the Home Office reported on Wednesday.
Salah, 52, was set to address an event in parliament on Wednesday, organized by Labor Party MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Burden together with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
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Home Office Minister Theresa May said arrangements were now being made to deport Salah.
“We do not normally comment on individual cases, but in this case I think it is important to do so. Salah’s presence in the UK has caused controversy. The Home Office had excluded him for his anti-Semitic views yet he was able to enter the country on Saturday unchallenged.
“I can confirm he was excluded and that he managed to enter the UK. He has now been detained and the UK Border Agency is now making arrangements to remove him,” May said.
“A full investigation is now taking place into how he was able to enter.”
Lawyers said Salah had two options: stand trial, or face immediate deportation, Channel 10 reported.
Late on Wednesday, Ynet reported Salah’s remand was extended until July 6 because he was intending to appeal the decision to deport him.
May was asked a question in parliament on Monday by Conservative MP Mike Freer: “Given this man’s history of virulent anti-Semitism, will the home secretary ban him from entering the UK?”
May said in response, “I will seek to exclude an individual if I consider that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good, and the government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe that they might seek to undermine our society. Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who seek to subvert our shared values.”
“The UK Border Agency has made a very serious error in letting this man walk through passport control,” said Freer in parliament on Monday.
According to the Islamic Movement, Salah was arrested close to midnight on Tuesday in London after returning from a lecture in Leicester.
The movement blamed the “Jewish lobby” for the arrest, meant to protect the “Zionist narrative.”
“Since Salah received the invitation to come to Britain, the Jewish lobby went crazy and did everything in its power to prevent the visit, so that the Zionist narrative remains the only narrative,” the movement said in a statement.
In a direct message to “the Jewish lobby,” the Islamic Movement continued, “We will protect our rights and will bring the voice of truth to the world, especially as it relates to the Palestinian people. We won’t be affected by this political arrest.”
At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the organization the Middle East Monitor posted on its website an entry titled, “The facts and sequence of events surrounding Sheikh Raed Salah’s arrest.”
“Sheikh Raed Salah arrived in London on Saturday 25th using his Israeli passport to enter Britain legally, as he has done many times before. He was not questioned by anyone and there was no indication of the existence of an exclusion order. Over the past few days, Sheikh Salah has addressed MPs in the British Parliament and has spoken in large public gatherings. His subsequent arrest last night will be challenged in the courts as unjustified. This seems to be the beginning of a worrying trend of persecution of Muslims and pro-Palestinian activists.”
The organization, which hosted a speech by Salah at Queen Mary, University of London this week, said that as soon as it announced it was holding the event, “a wellknown pro-Israeli website” began to circulate “a catalogue of lies and fabrications about him [Salah].”
Middle East Monitor press officer Dr. Hanan Chehata told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that UK authorities had known of Salah’s visit well in advance and that her organization “had widely publicized the event. We told very many people and advertised it on our website. It was public knowledge and members of Parliament were notified that he was coming and we also hung up fliers for the event.
“It wasn’t a quiet event, it was well-publicized.”
Chehata said her organization was not informed of any UK ban against Salah and it “had no inkling that there would be a problem.”
She also stated that her group did not receive any threats or harassment from Israel supporters in the UK before Salah’s visit.
Middle East Monitor is led by Daud Abdullah, a Hamas supporter and deputy-secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain.
In 2009, the government distanced itself from him after he signed the Istanbul Declaration after Operation Cast Lead, which advocated a call for attacks on the Royal Navy, were it to enforce a ban on arms-smuggling to Gaza.
He also called for continued military action against Israel. In response, the government said it would have nothing to do with the Muslim Council of Britain while Abdullah was secretary-general.
MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), reacting to the arrest, said, “Instead of the British authorities supporting our just struggle for democracy, freedom and political action, it seems they support the Israeli policies of political persecution against Arabs in Israel.
“The primary source behind the arrest is Israeli pressure and the pressure of Zionist actors inside Britain,” Zoabi said.
Calling for Salah’s release, she continued, “I suggest the British be smarter in their behavior, in everything related to the rights of Palestinians in Israel. We, the Arab leadership, need to act more aggressively in the international area, so that the world understands the policies of racism and political persecution that the Israeli government carries out against us.”
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) described the arrest as “baffling and undemocratic behavior by the British authorities.”
MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said the UK is “cooperating with Israeli oppression.
“The arrest is a blow to the Arab public in Israel, which sees Sheikh
Raed Salah as one of its leaders,” Zahalka explained. “This is a
political and religious figure, and there is no justified reason to
arrest him. Instead of the UK supporting the rights of Arab citizens in
Israel, they are cooperating in harming them.”
In April, Salah, was detained for questioning on suspicion that he
attacked police officers and obstructed their duties at the Allenby
Bridge, connecting the West Bank to Jordan.
Late last year, the Islamic Movement leader was released from prison in Ramle after serving a five-month sentence.
Salah had been convicted of assaulting and spitting on a police officer
who was providing security at a demonstration sponsored by the sheikh in
Salah also took part in the 2010 Gaza Flotilla, sailing on the Mavi Marmara, the site of a raid by Israel Navy commandos that left 9 Turkish men dead.