JfJfP defends free speech and protests to Home Secretary at arrest of Sheikh Salah

June 29, 2011
Sarah Benton

JfJfP letter to the Home Secretary regarding the arrest of Sheikh Raed Salah

Jews for Justice for Palestinians wish to make the strongest possible objection to the arrest and possible deportation of Sheikh Raed Salah. Over the last three days, Sheikh Salah has been addressing public meetings and has even appeared in the Houses of Parliament. It is difficult to understand how the Government could suddenly have become so agitated by his presence.

We note the reason for his arrest is that ‘his presence is not conducive to the public good’. We say on the contrary, his arrest and deportation would certainly not be conducive to the public good. We note that the press has been making scurrilous accusations against him, which are subject to a libel action. This would be difficult to pursue, were he to be deported, thus undermining the judicial process. We have been unable to find any substance to the allegations of antisemitism made against him. He appeared recently on a platform in Tel Aviv University which upheld his right to speak there. One does not have to agree with someone to allow them the right to speak.

We believe the decision of the Home Secretary sends exactly the wrong message to the people of this country, namely that Free Speech is a moveable feast, once those with certain interests make a decision as to entitlement. Furthermore, we believe this decision will have most unfortunate consequences for community cohesion in this country, targeting as it does someone with a strong following in the Muslim community.

We would strongly urge you to reconsider your decision.

Press Release from Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Date: Wednesday, 29 June, 2011, 8:48

Sarah Colborne, PSC Director, said “I am appalled that Sheikh Raed Salah was detained late last night by the police.


“Sheikh Raed Salah is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, the largest movement for Palestinians in Israel. This is a legitimate organisation which Israel has never moved to ban. Raed Saleh regularly speaks at venues across Israel where he has considerable support amongst the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population.

“Sheikh Raed has been elected as mayor of his hometown Um al-Fahm three times. He has never been convicted of anti-Semitism in Israel.

“Before coming to Britain, he faced horrific allegations of anti-Semitism, which he completely refuted. He has clarified his position of being opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism against his own people, the Palestinians. He has asked his legal team to take legal action against those spreading these false allegations.

“The attempt to remove Sheikh Raed Salah from this country whilst he is taking legal action against those who have been defaming him is an obstruction of the course of justice.

“We have been organising a meeting on peace and justice in Jerusalem for weeks – with publicity widely available – to which Sheikh Raed Salah was one of the speakers. PSC also invited MPs to speak at the same meeting. At no stage did anyone contact us from the government or the police. Following rumours in the papers, Sheikh Raed Salah’s legal team tried to verify if it was true that a travel ban had indeed been issued, and had no confirmation nor denial from any official source. I am appalled that decisions on whether or not significant political figures can be detained in this country appear to be made on the basis of defamatory rumours, rather than facts. This shocking move by the British government will deeply damage British relations in the Middle East.”


Middle East Monitor Press Statement: Mr. Raed Salah and the Secretary of State for Home Department
Press Statement
Issue Date: 29th June 2011


Mr. Raed Salah and the Secretary of State for Home Department
Mr. Salah arrived in London on Saturday 25th June 2011 using his Israeli Passport. He was not aware of any purported exclusion order made by Secretary of State for the Home Department and was allowed to enter the country without objection.
During the late evening of 28th June Mr. Salah was arrested and detained under provisions of the Immigration Act. He was informed that he was subject to a deportation notice as the Secretary of State deemed his deportation to be conductive to the public good.

Mr. Salah was invited to the United Kingdom to speak at a series of public events and to participate in roundtable discussions at the Houses of Parliament with MPs, Lords and researchers.

Mr. Salah considers the Secretary of State’s decision to be without merit and will challenge the lawfulness of this decision in the Courts.

Tayab Ali, solicitor for Mr. Salah says ‘Mr. Salah was in the UK to discuss the recent globally important developments in the Middle East with Parliamentarians and members of the British Public. To deport such an important and significant Palestinian activist is counter productive and acts against the principles of democracy that the British government states it wishes to export to that region’.

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