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Smearing Sheikh Raed Salah

Smearing Sheikh Raed Salah

Categories: Latest News

Friday July 01 2011


A Guardian editorial today reflects on the detention awaiting deportation status of visiting Palestinian activist Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

Sheikh Salah has been the subject of articles in various newspapers this week (Daily Mailfront page story, Daily Express, Evening Standard, to name a few) concerning the Home Secretary’s invocation of an exclusion order and his actual presence in the UK.

Some articles, notably in the Daily Mail, have taken issue with the UK Border Agency, declaring it ‘unfit for purpose’ for the mishap. But most, if not all, have failed to question the reasons behind the exclusion order itself, and the logic of its deployment.

As the Guardian editorial argues,“What has made our government so agitated by his presence?”

“Is it the fact that the sheikh was accused in some British newspapers and one website of making antisemitic statements, which he says were fabricated, and for which he has started libel proceedings? If so, the home secretary is applying a higher threshold for the public good in Britain than Israel itself applies to a man it has not been shy of prosecuting on other issues. Repeated attempts to outlaw the Islamic Movement for incitement have failed in Israel’s high court. Mr Salah has not been convicted of antisemitism, and spoke recently on a platform in Tel Aviv University.

“In apparently arresting Mr Salah for remarks he denies he made and which it has yet to be proved in a court of law that he did make, a British home secretary is being even more intolerant to the representatives of Israel’s Arab minority, 20% of the population, than the state of Israel itself.

“If the home secretary is unwise enough to start applying her “prevent” policy to all Palestinian activists Israel has a problem with, Britain will face a backlash in the Arab world. The prime minister Salam Fayyad – no Islamist himself – said Mr Salah’s arrest would harm the Palestinian Authority.

“…Mr Salah [was] due to speak at an annual Palestinian festival in London. In a separate celebration, Jerusalem Day, rightwing Israeli activists marched into the Arab Old City shouting slogans such as “Muhammad is dead”, “May your village burn”, and “Butcher the Arabs”. This is racist incitement for which no action is being taken. Should Britain be taking lessons from Israel on incitement?”

Then there is of course the recent visit to the UK of Professor Benny Morris, a visit that was applauded by pro-Zionist bloggers on Harry’s Place.

Prof Morris has in the past likened Palestinians to “animals” deserving of a “cage” to contain them. In an interview with Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz in 2004, he argued in support of the “full expulsion” of Palestinians from the region claiming that David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, has not done “a complete job”.

Among his more enlightened views on Islam and Muslims in Europe are these offerings:

“There is a deep problem in Islam. It’s a world whose values are different. A world in which human life doesn’t have the same value as it does in the West, in which freedom, democracy, openness and creativity are alien.”

“…the phenomenon of the mass Muslim penetration into the West and their settlement there is creating a dangerous internal threat”.

As we’ve previously argued, applying the order on excluding persons for “not being conducive to the public good” is one that is too important to be left to the vagaries of political lobbying by pro-Zionist groups intent on using it to curtail the visiting rights of Palestinian activists.

It is all the more offensive when we consider the obscene lengths the Conservative party has gone to to amend the UK’s commitment to universal jurisdiction, without due regard for moral responsibility, in order to protect Israeli officials from facing arrest on charges of suspected war crimes when visiting the UK.

Much like the exclusion order applied to Dr Zakir Naik last year, the one invoked against Sheikh Raed Salah has been fomented by a rightwing media campaign determined to couch the dubious grounds on which the order rests in an aura of legitimacy. The Middle East peace process, and our Government’s commitment to a two state solution, is dangerously undermined by the partiality apparent in the selective deployment of exclusion orders.

See also Haneen Zoabi on Comment is Free and Bob Lambert on Al Jazeera English.


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