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Henin: Barakei hitting someone is ‘science fiction’
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
01/21/2013
Hadash's Henin testifies in defense of fellow MK in trial over two separate alleged altercations.
 
MK Dov Henin testified in defense of fellow Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei on Sunday in the trial against him over two separate alleged altercations, one during a 2005 demonstration in Bil’in and another in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in 2006.

The two charges relate to allegations that Barakei tried to help a Palestinian – arrested during a 2005 Bil’in protest – break out of custody; and that he struck a counter-protester who was verbally accosting another demonstrator at Rabin Square in 2006.

In his testimony, Henin said the idea that Barakei would have hit anyone was “science fiction.”

Henin also said, “We don’t want violence or arrests so that people will see the protests on Ynet or TV, and will want to come.”

He implied that violence and arrests hurt his cause of increasing turnout at the protests, as they would stop people who weren’t already committed activists from coming.

Mostly Henin was there to testify about the tense, unstable and dynamic context of demonstrations.

He said that most “demonstrators don’t know their rights, and they and police [get] very angry, and police just dislike disruptions,” but noted that an MK can serve as a liaison between protesters and police.

Henin said that he and Barakei always tried to explain to police that they are not “against them personally, but against the government’s policies.”

Henin also spoke more specifically about the role of an MK in demonstrations and the importance of the right to demonstrate for democracy.

Presenting a quote from Karl Marx as encapsulating the essence of active participation in democracy, he said that “freedom of human beings will be by their own hand or won’t be at all.”

Henin added that for him, part of being a politician in the opposition was regularly attending protests.

There were some extremely tense moments during the examination, with Henin and the state attorney practically yelling at each other as the latter pressed the former, who took offense at the wording of a series of questions.

When Henin was asked if it was prohibited to demonstrate in a closed military area, he responded “your question shows you’ve never been in a protest and I invite you to come.”

He continued, saying “What is a closed area? Protests start from the inside of a village and they move to its outskirts. I don’t know what or where a closed military area is.”

Asked if he had ever wanted to hit anyone, such as counter- protesters or police, Henin said “no” and that Barakei would never hit anyone, even though both of them could get angry.

He added that if he saw a protester being illegally attacked, he would see it as his duty to stop it as an MK and a citizen.

Barakei himself testified in the case last month, signaling the start of the defense’s presentation of its case.

Originally, the MK was accused of four separate charges, but the other two charges – which involved forms of expression, including alleged verbal sparring with police – were dropped in October 2011 based on his immunity for voicing dissent as a Knesset member.

Following that decision, the court ruled in November that Barakei would be brought to trial on the other two charges as they did not fall under the immunities granted to a Knesset member.

In previous hearings, the prosecution already presented its case and its witnesses were already cross-examined.

Barakei accused the prosecution of negligence in filing the action against him.

“This is a political crusade, [and] we will overcome it,” he said prior to the start of the proceedings, adding that it is “incumbent on all of us to actualize our rights to protest and speak out against the destructive policies of the government.”

The trial will continue on January 24. Barakei has been an MK since 1999.
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