Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Ra'ad Salah
Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Ra'ad Salah. Photo by Tess Scheflan
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A London court ruled Friday that Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, will remain in a U.K. prison until he is deported. The court denied Salah's appeal against a deportation order, saying he had entered Britain illegally. Salah, who has been in custody for a week and a half, rejected the court's decision and said he would continue to appeal the decision. "I entered Britain legally, and I'll leave without being deported," he said.

Salah's attorney and spokesman, Zahi Nujeidat - who has been in London since Salah's arrest - told Haaretz: "The sheikh insists on his right to fight an arbitrary decision by the British government and therefore he has decided to remain incarcerated and wait for the appeal."

Nujeidat said the British authorities had anticipated neither Salah's fight against the ban on his entry, nor the sympathy of the Arab and Muslim public in Britain and in many circles of British society.

Thousands of Islamic Movement sympathizers gathered yesterday in Nazareth, along with the leaders of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, to protest Salah's detention.

Earlier in the week, Home Secretary Theresa May, answering questions before the Home Affairs Committee in Parliament about Salah's arrest, confirmed that an exclusion order against the Sheikh had been signed on Thursday June 23 - almost a week before he entered Heathrow Airport without being stopped or experiencing any problems.

Responding to a question from an MP as to why the exclusion order had been made in the first place, the Home Secretary cited "unreasonable behavior," but did not elaborate.

Salah's lawyer, Tayab Ali, told local media that his client had been wrongly accused: "The home secretary has grossly misjudged my client," Ali said. "In stark contrast to the false picture that has been painted, he is a man of peace, a widely respected leader who campaigns tirelessly for his people."