Koran female teacher arrested for 'harming' Palestinian security forces

The woman, Ala’ Bashir, 23, was arrested two weeks ago by PA security officers in a mosque in the village of Jainsafout, east of Qalqilya.

May 21, 2019 20:55
3 minute read.
A Palestinian poster demanding Ala' Bashir's release from PSS custody.

A Palestinian poster demanding Ala' Bashir's release from PSS custody.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Palestinians have launched a campaign to demand that the Palestinian Authority release a Palestinian woman who was arrested inside a mosque while she was teaching the Koran.

The woman, Ala’ Bashir, 23, was arrested two weeks ago by PA security officers in a mosque in the village of Jainsafout, east of Kalkilya. Witnesses said 25 security officers raided the Othman Bin Affan mosque and arrested Bashir while she was teaching children the Koran.

The PA’s Preventive Security Service (PSS), whose members arrested Bashir, said she was taken into custody on the basis of information that “certain parties operating outside the national consensus, and which had contributed to the destabilization of surrounding Arab countries, had exploited her difficult psychological and social condition.”

The PSS did not name the alleged parties. However, it said that they had sought to “incite and recruit the woman, with the help of some members of illegal armed militias, to harm the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.”

Bashir was arrested in order to save her from this exploitation attempt, the PSS added. “She was arrested in accordance with the law, and her arrest has nothing to do with political affiliation,” the PSS said, adding that her lawyers and a representative of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights have been allowed to visit Bashir in prison.

However, some Palestinian lawyers complained that their request to visit Bashir in prison has been turned down by the PA security forces.

One of the lawyers, Muhanad Karajah, said PA security officials informed him that he would not be permitted to represent or see Bashir because he had reported her case to the Palestinian media.

Bashir’s mother, Asmahan, said that the PA security forces first raided the family home in search of her daughter. “They stormed our home around 5:30 p.m. and identified themselves as members of the Preventive Security Service,” she said. “They said they had a warrant to search the house, but did not show it to me. They conducted a thorough search of the house and confiscated our computers. They asked about my daughter, and I told them she was teaching in the mosque.”

The mother said she has no idea why her daughter was arrested. She complained that the PA security forces were holding Bashir in solitary confinement and preventing family members and lawyers from visiting her.

Several Palestinian factions and social media users launched a campaign calling on the PA to immediately release the woman. The campaign is being held under the banner “We are all Ala’ Bashir.”

The organizers of the campaign accused the PA security forces of “desecrating” a mosque and arresting the woman for teaching the Koran. They also called on Palestinian and international human rights organizations to pressure the PA to release Bashir.

The Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK warned the PA and its security forces against torturing Bashir in order to force her to make false concessions. It also called for allowing her family members and lawyers to visit her in prison.

“The organization holds Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh responsible for the safety of Ala’ Bashir,” the group said in a statement that also demanded her immediate release.

Bashir is the second Palestinian woman to be arrested by the PA security forces in the past few months. Late last year, another woman, Suha Jbara, 31, was arrested for two months on suspicion of funding “illegal organizations” and “collaborating with the enemy.” Amnesty International quoted Jbara as saying she had been beaten and threatened with sexual violence by her Palestinian interrogators.

“Suha Jbara has described her torture in harrowing detail. In her testimony she gives an account of ruthless interrogators who have shamelessly flouted Palestine’s obligations to treat prisoners humanely and violated the absolute prohibition under international law of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

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