Israeli Court Bars Islamic Movement Leader From Leaving Country

Court postpones decision on Ra'ad Salah's appeal of his conviction for incitement.

AFP

The leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, Ra’ad Salah, was blocked from leaving the country Wednesday night by a restraining order issued against him by Interior Minister Silvan Shalom.

Salah had been planning to travel to Istanbul for a conference of Arab and Islamic parliaments on Jerusalem. The Islamic Movement accused the state of harassment and political persecution.

The Jerusalem District Court postponed its decision on Wednesday morning on the appeal filed by the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, until October 27. In late March, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court sentenced Salah to 11 months in prison and eight months of probation following his conviction for incitement to racism and incitement to violence or terrorism. Salah is appealing both his conviction and the sentence.

A year ago, the court sentenced Salah to eight months in prison for the crimes, but both Salah and the prosecution appealed this ruling and the court increased his sentence – which he is now appealing. The prosecution is asking for a sentence of between 18 and 40 months in prison.

Salah said Wednesday morning in court that he “does not fear imprisonment and if in the end it is decided I will go to jail, then I am ready to do so in support of the Al-Aqsa mosque.”

Salah arrived in court with a few dozen supporters in tow, along with several Arab Knesset members who came to show their support in light of the statements in recent days against the Islamic Movement and the intentions to outlaw the organization.

The indictment against Salah was filed following a sermon he gave in Wadi Joz in Jerusalem during Friday prayers in February 2007. At the time, Salah was prohibited from attending prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque due to a restraining order against him issued by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. Therefore, he gave his sermon in the Wadi Joz area, before hundreds of people who were also prohibited from entering the Temple Mount.

According to the ruling, the pertinent section of the sheikh’s sermon, for which he was also convicted in the District Court of incitement to racism, comprised his statements about the blood libel against the Jews that has existed for generations: “We have never allowed ourselves, listen carefully, we have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread of the breakfast meal during the blessed month of Ramadan with the blood of children. And if anyone wants further explanation, he should ask what happened to some of the children of Europe whose blood was mixed in the dough of the holy bread. Dear God, is this religion? Is this what God wants? God will conduct a reckoning with you for what you do ”

He went on to say, “We call upon every Muslim and Arab in the Islamic and Arab world, be it a judge or a scientist or even a party or public institution or faction or people – we tell them, now it is their duty to help the Palestinian people. Now it is their duty to launch an Arab Islamic intifada from ocean to ocean, in support of holy Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.”

On November 10, 2014, the Jerusalem District Court unanimously accepted the state’s appeal regarding the defendant’s exoneration on the charge of incitement to racism. The appeal of the conviction on the charge of incitement to violence was rejected by a majority of the panel, and the District Court sent the case back to a lower Magistrate’s Court, to Judge Chana Miriam Lomp.

In April 2014, Salah was convicted of obstructing police duty for attempting to prevent a bodily search being performed on his wife at the Allenby Bridge crossing when the couple returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca about three years earlier.