Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, accused
Israel of “trying to destroy the [Aksa] Mosque,” said Police Supt. Yigal
Almaleah was arguing against Salah’s appeal on Thursday at the
Jerusalem District Court and trying to maintain a 30-day restraining order
against the Islamic leader that would prohibit him from coming within 30
kilometers of the Aksa Mosque.
Almaleah listed other statements by Salah
that the police superintendent considered incitement, including blaming Israel
for an alleged attempt – decades ago – to burn down the mosque, accusing Israel
of trying to establish a Third Temple on the same spot and blaming Israel and
Egypt for attempting “to burn the Muslim world.”
On the basis of these
and other statements by Salah at a speech in Kafr Kara in Wadi Ara on August 23,
Almaleah blamed Salah for inciting the massive violence that occurred at the
Temple Mount between September 4 and 6.
Had Salah not been arrested and
kept away from the Temple Mount, there could have been “two rounds of violence”–
not only the one that occurred – Almaleah said.
Salah’s lawyer claimed
that the state had mistranslated his client’s speech and that all he had called
for was to “defend the mosque” without appealing for any form of violent
“defense.” The attorney pointed out that it took 10 days until Salah’s arrest on
September 3, thus suggesting that police had not viewed him as a real threat;
otherwise, they would have arrested him sooner.
Salah’s lawyer repeatedly
accused police of being on a “politically motivated witch hunt” against Salah
because, he said, they do not like his political agenda and were inventing
reasons to restrict his freedom of speech and movement.
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court had ordered Salah released on NIS 50,000 bail and
on condition that he stay at least 30 km. away from the mosque for a period of
30 days, but he refused to cooperate, remained in jail and appealed to the
higher district court level.
In response to the arrest, Meretz MK Esawi
Freige said that he and his party were against all forms of incitement but that
the arrest demonstrated a double standard between Arabs and Jews.
appears that democracy in Israel is much less tolerant to comments made by Arabs
as compared to those made by settlers and rabbis. If the police had arrested
rabbis saying similar things, the prison cells would be full long ago,” Freige
The Jerusalem Post spoke to Sheikh Kamil Ahmad Rayan, head of
the NGO al- Aksa Association for the Care of the Islamic Holy Sites and a member
of the Islamic Movement’s southern branch.
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