Israel's Culture Minister Calls to Investigate Actor Mohammad Bakri for Incitement

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Mohammad Bakri at a June conference on free speech at Tel Aviv University
Mohammad Bakri at a June conference on free speech at Tel Aviv UniversityCredit: Moti Milrod

Culture Minister Miri Regev is asking the attorney general to investigate an Israeli-Arab actor and director for alleged incitement against Israel.

Regev wrote to Avichai Mendelblit, asking him to open an investigation into Mohammad Bakri, who is on a visit to Lebanon, in the wake of media reports that he had criticized Arab countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel, calling them “traitors.”

In her letter to Mendelblit, Regev noted that Bakri, an Israeli citizen, is in Lebanon for the “Palestine Days” cultural festival. She accused Bakri of visiting a country that is in a military confrontation with Israel. She wrote: “Bakri is known for his oppositional positions toward Israel (his country). He dared to call Arab countries that have ties with Israel ‘traitors’ – claiming Israel is nothing more than the Zionist enemy such that all contact with it is traitorous.”

Regev asserted that Bakri had “literally crossed the line, visiting an enemy country and inciting against the state.” She added: “I seek the opening of an investigation and to immediately call him in when he lands in Israel. A lack of a decisive response by law enforcement authorities legitimizes such activity, which we must not allow.”

Regev posted on Facebook: “Mohammad Bakri, you don’t have to be an Israeli citizen. As long as you are, you won’t incite against the country, and you won’t visit enemy countries, period.”

The Israeli Walla news site reported on Saturday that Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar quoted Bakri at a press conference in Lebanon. According to the report, Bakri said, “The act of normalization with the Zionist enemy is treason, and the discussion around it is shameful and totally unacceptable.” Bakri also said, according to the report, that “my presence in Lebanon, which is considered an enemy in Israel, is a victory over racist laws.”

Haaretz was unable to obtain comment from Bakri.

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