British Court Orders Release of Sheik Ra'ad Salah

Islamic Movement leader says he will fight expulsion from Britain.

Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, leader of the northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, is set to be released on bail Monday following his arrest in Britain last month for allegedly violating a ban on his entry into the country.

The British High Court on Friday accepted an appeal by Salah and ordered his release. However, Salah will not be released until Monday, as the procedure for paying bail cannot be completed during weekends.

Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Ra'ad Salah
Tess Scheflan

Salah was arrested June 29 in London after spending several days in the country lecturing before Britain's Arab and Muslim communities. The sheikh had been invited to Britain by a Palestinian research institute for a series of lectures.

Salah also was scheduled to meet with British parliamentarians.

British authorities said Salah was arrested after he violated a ban on his entry into Britain issued against him for incitement and endangering national security.

Britain's ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, told the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee that the warrant against Salah's entry into Britain was issued several hours prior to his arrival. Gould said airport authorities in London were not informed of the ban in time to prevent his entry.

Salah decided to stay in custody and challenge the proceedings.

Defense attorneys for Salah contested an original court decision not to allow Salah's release. They also challenged the ban on his entry and the order that he return to Israel.

Salah's deputy, Sheikh Kamal Khatib, said Salah will be allowed to remain at home in London after his release. Khatib added that Salah will continue his legal struggle against the ban on his entry to Britain and the order for his expulsion.

"We prefer that the sheikh return to his homeland and that he be among his supporters, but we will make the final decision following his release and in consultation with him, lawyers and all other relevant sources," Khatib said.

Salah and the heads of the Islamic Movement in Israel charged that the British government issued the ban on his entry because they succumbed to Israeli dictates and pressure from the Zionist lobby and Jewish community in Britain.