The head of the Islamic Movement in Israel's Northern Branch, Ra'ad Salah, was charged Tuesday in Jerusalem Magistrate's Court with incitement to violence and racism, over a fiery speech he gave a year ago in which he invoked the blood libel.
During the speech at the February 16, 2007 protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, Salah accused Jews of using children's blood to bake bread.
"We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood," he said. "Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread."
"Great God, is this a religion?" he asked. "Is this what God would want? God will deal with you yet for what you are doing."
The rally was called to protest the planned Mughrabi bridge construction in Jerusalem's Old City. Addressing the 1,000-strong crowd and assembled press, Salah accused Israel of attempting to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount while drenched in Arab blood.
"Whoever wants to build a house of God should not do so while our blood is still on his clothes, on his doorposts, in his food, in his drink, being passed along from one terrorist general to the next terrorist general," he said.
"You are inciting against us, do not let the ranks on your shoulders tempt you," he continued. "These ranks and stars on your shoulders were made from the skulls of our martyrs. They are ranks of shame, not ranks of splendor. These are ranks of disgrace, not ranks of honor."
Following the speech and Friday prayers, the crowd began rioting and throwing stones at police. According to the prosecution, Salah's speech constituted a "call to commit acts of violence and encouragement of acts of violence, which given the content and context, there was a real possibility that it could lead to acts of violence."
The prosecution said Salah made the remarks "with the objective of inciting racism."
In an interview with Ashams radio, Salah said in response that, "I am willing to repeat before the court all the things I said at the Friday sermon in Wadi Joz or any other meeting with journalists."
"Our statements are the products of conviction, and I will not recant," he continued.
Salah said the decision to indict him, along with Sunday's decision to close the case against officers involved in the deaths of 13 Israeli Arabs in the October 2000 riots, was part of an attempt to pressure and threaten Israeli Arab society. "They want us to be good little boys," he said.
Salah was released from prison in 2005 after serving some two years for having contact with a foreign agent, as well as financial crimes related to the Islamic Movement.
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