Salah begins five-month sentence

Islamic Movement leader in jail for assaulting a police officer.

311_Salah arrested (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Salah arrested
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Around 100 supporters accompanied Islamic cleric Sheikh Raed Salah to prison on Sunday, as he began serving a five-month prison term.
Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement’s radical Northern Branch, was convicted of a 2007 attack on a police officer during a Jerusalem protest. The Islamic leader was found guilty of assaulting and spitting on a police officer who was providing security at a demonstration sponsored by Salah.
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Among the people joining Salah on his journey to Ayalon Prison was far-left activist Tali Fahima.
In a press conference before he entered the prison, Salah warned that the second half of 2010 would be “a fateful year for the al-Aksa Mosque” and reiterated calls for his supporters to guard the Temple Mount compound from alleged Israeli aspirations to turn it into a place of Jewish worship. Jerusalem, he said, and not his detention, should be the major issue of the day.
“It is clear that the Israeli establishment, through its various arms, always returns to the detestable logic of conquest,” said the Northern Front in a statement released Sunday. “The Israeli occupation carries out a crime against al-Aksa, but it is we who are being jailed. We greet the jail with satisfaction because it is the price of our stance for the blessed al-Aksa.
On the other hand, we also greet the prison with anger because of the occupation and the crimes that [the Israeli establishment] has committed,” he said.
Salah was originally sentenced to nine months in prison, but the Jerusalem District Court significantly reduced his sentence two weeks ago after the court ruled that the initial sentence “was severe beyond appropriate measure.” At the same time, the court slammed Salah’s actions as ultimately harming the right to demonstrate and to freedom of expression.
MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) blasted Arab MKs for “taking a stance against peace” on Sunday after he received reports that a number of his Arab colleagues had accompanied Salah to prison.
“I would expect Arab society and its representatives in the Knesset to demonstrate responsibility in distancing themselves from Salah’s actions,” said Schneller.
“Salah is a figure who has made a goal of inciting against peace and ruining our chances of achieving it.”