Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic movement in Israel, was indicted Thursday for incitement to terror, a week after being arrested for what police said was an attempt to spark "war on the Temple Mount."
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Addressing the court, Salah, whose movement was outlawed two years ago, said "the Israeli court is judging me for my Islam." He faces four counts of incitement, all for statements he made after the terror attack on the Temple Mount last month.
One count has to do with a video he published to his Facebook page in which he says Israel's policy of occupation was tantamount to declaring war on Palestinian children. The other three counts all pertain to speeches and sermons he gave, including one at a funeral for Israeli Arabs who were behind the shooting attack at the Temple Mount.
Last week, an Israeli court extended his detention out of fear that his release could harm public safety. However, at the time, the court rejected police allegations that Salah had incited violence at the funeral of the three assailants whose Temple Mount attack had killed two Border Police officers.
The police representative at the hearing said, "We believe that his sermons lead to attacks and attempted attacks, following the attack on the Temple Mount.”
Salah’s lawyer, Khaled Zabarqa, disagreed with the police and asked the court to release his client. “There is an attempt here to grossly trample the sheikh’s right to a fair trial,” he said.
Salah, his family, the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel and Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) had all argued that the sheikh’s arrest reflected a continuing policy of political persecution against him.
Salah had been released from prison in January after serving a nine-month term for incitement to violence and incitement to racism. The northern branch of the Islamic Movement, which Israel outlawed in 2015, is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.