Israeli Arab political activist Jasan Munir was summoned to the Lod police station last weekend without explanation. It was only after he arrived that he learned he was wanted for questioning because of a post he made on Facebook.
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Munir, who ran for Lod city council in the most recent elections, had made a post critical of the new Israel Defense Forces initiative to draft Christian Arabs. Arab activists have complained in the past of being arrested and investigated because of Facebook posts they made about controversial issues.
Munir shared photographs on his Facebook page of Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest and one of the heads of the forum to promote the enlistment of members of the Christian Arab community, showing Nadaf meeting with Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Munir also published a list of the names of the Christian Arabs who participated in the meeting with Lapid. Along with the photographs and list, he wrote, “For freedom of expressions and transparency, those whose 'esteemed’ pictures and names appear in the following pictures are those who want to draft your sons against the sons of your people — be on guard and remember.”
Munir says he spent several hours at the police station and was passed from investigator to investigator, until a female investigator sat down with him and began asking about his views on drafting Christian Arabs. She told him that he was being arrested for making threats but that he could be released to house arrest if he handed over his iPad, laptop computer and smartphone, Munir says. Munir says he gave the investigator the devices and was released to house arrest for five days.
“There was no threat in what I wrote,” said Munir. “I also wanted to understand who complained against me and I didn’t receive an answer, but they hinted to me it was an ‘order from high, high up,’ as they describe it.”
Following the incident, Munir turned to Adala - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which filed an appeal concerning the conditions of his release. His lawyer says Munir’s post simply expressed his opinion. Munir is convinced his arrest was designed scare him and other Arab critics of Israeli policy into silence.
“Even if they try to scare us from expressing an opinion, it is forbidden to be deterred and be frightened, as long as we act within the framework of the law,” he said.
The Israel Police said Munir was invited for questioning on suspicion that his post contained threats, particularly against Lapid and Nadaf. His personal computer was examined as part of the investigation, said the police.