Israel Police Recommend Indicting Imprisoned Islamic Movement Leader

A month before his expected release from prison, Sheikh Ra’ad Salah may be charged, again, with incitement.

Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel at a police station in Haifa, Novemner 17, 2015.
Rami Shllush

The police have recommended that Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, leader of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement, be charged with incitement.

Salah is in the last month of a nine-month prison term for a previous conviction — incitement to commit violence, because of a sermon he gave in East Jerusalem in 2007.

The new charges are based on various statements made by Salah after Israel outlawed his movement in November 2014. The police examined statements Salah made regarding the movement, his role in it, and other issues at the core of the movement’s worldview.

In November 2014 the security cabinet declared the northern branch of the Islamic Movement to be an unlawful association. Most of its institutions, including civil and non-profit groups, were closed. The meaning of the declaration was that any group or person belonging to this movement or granting it services or acting within its framework would be criminally liable and subject to imprisonment. Moreover, any assets belonging to the movement could be confiscated from that date on.

Since last May Salah has been serving a nine-month prison sentence for incitement. He has been kept in isolation, prohibited from meeting other prisoners. Only his attorney and close family members are permitted to visit him. He is due to be released in February.

Salah’s attorney Omar Khamaisi, from Al Mezan Center For Human Rights, said in response that “the sheikh has been imprisoned for eight months and the timing of the investigation and the publishing of a statement only days before his release is no coincidence. It only strengthens our claims that this is purely political persecution.”

Salah’s attorneys believe that if an indictment is filed before his release there will also be a request to remand him until the end of all legal proceedings. In addition, they believe he may be held under administrative detention or have other restrictions placed on him.