Raed Salah Abu Shakra (Arabic: رائد صلاح, Hebrew: ראאד סלאח; born 1958) is the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. He was born in Umm al-Fahm, Israel, and was elected as the mayor of that city three times: in 1989, 1993 and 1997. He has eight children and is a former poet.
He was convicted in Israel of funding Hamas, and of having contact with an Iranian intelligence agent; he served a two-year sentence from 2003 to 2005. In 2010, he served a five-month sentence after being convicted of assaulting a police officer and leading a violent demonstration.
Hamas fundraising and 2003 conviction
Salah was convicted by Israel of funding Hamas, and of having contact with an Iranian intelligence agent. He served a two-year sentence from 2003 to 2005, after which he was released under a deal that barred him from traveling abroad and required him to check in with an officer every month.
Salah said the charges against him were a "mockery". The 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices reported that human rights non-governmental organizations stated that Salah had been "unfairly denied bail despite his status and community ties." Jonathan Cook, writing in Al-Ahram Weekly, stated that while Salah and four other party leaders stood trial on serious charges of aiding and abetting a "terror organization", the Israeli police said the accusations revolved primarily around money laundering, and that for eighteen months prior to his arrest in 2003, Salah was barred from leaving Israel. According to Cook, the newspaper produced by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement was shut down and charities he had founded were closed, and since the election of Ariel Sharon, the Shin Bet had been monitoring and taping phone calls made by Salah and his officials, and intercepting e-mails as well. Cook cited rumors that over 200,000 recordings were awaiting translation from Arabic to Hebrew to prepare for his trial.
Allegations of hate speech and antisemitism
According to reports, during a protest speech in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz on February 16, 2007, Salah accused Jews of using children's blood to bake bread. Israeli newspapers at the time quoted him as saying:
We [Muslims] have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood. Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.
Activitism in Jerusalem
On February 28, 2007, Israeli police prevented Christian and Muslim leaders from holding a meeting and press conference organized by Salah in Jerusalem to put forward their opposition to Israeli excavation work being carried out near the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, the Temple Mount and known to in Arabic (and in Islam) as the Haram al-Sharif. Police claimed that the organization behind the event, the al-Aqsa Foundation, was affiliated with Hamas. When the event was moved to another hotel after receiving a cancellation order, Israeli police moved in and broke up the meeting. Salah told The Guardian newspaper that this "childish behavior" on the part of Israeli security forces "...does not protect security. It actually makes the security situation explosive."
In 2010, Salah was arrested for allegedly attacking a policeman in the Old City of Jerusalem during the 2007 protests. He was convicted and served a five-month prison sentence. When he was released he said: "We continue our activities fearlessly until we fulfill our aspirations." Salah was acquitted by an Israeli court on charges of rioting and "involvement in an illegal gathering" in connection with the 2007 protest, a judge ruling that the charges, brought by police, were "inconsistent with witness testimony and video evidence produced by the defence".
On October 2, 2009, Salah gave a speech which was branded "incitement" by police. Arab riots over the Temple Mount were taking place in Jerusalem and surrounding villages, and police claimed that he had incited rioters to violence. On October 6, 2009, Salah was arrested in Wadi al-Joz. Following a remand hearing before the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, Salah was released hours later, but was banned from entering Jerusalem for thirty days. Judge Shimon Feinberg argued that there was good reason to suspect Salah as a dangerous body, and that his presence in Jerusalem "could be inciting".
Involvement with 2010 Gaza flotilla
Salah participated in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a flotilla carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip, with the aim of breaking Israel's blockade. Salah was on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the convoy. On 31 May 2010, the flotilla was intercepted and the Mavi Marmara was boarded by the Israeli Navy, and activists on the Mavi Marmara attacked the Israeli commandos with iron bars cut from the ship's railings. In the subsequent clash, nine activists were killed and dozens injured. Seven Israeli naval commandos were also injured. An Israeli Police source told the Jerusalem Post that Salah tried to provide cover for an activist who shot at naval commandos during the raid, but that the gunman had already been hit. Early Palestinian reports claimed that Salah had been critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head. The Israeli Foreign Ministry, dismissed the reports as "rumors" and claimed that Salah was not seriously hurt, but suffered minor injuries. He was removed from the ship and taken to Ashdod, and questioned.
Salah along with the head of the Islamic Movement's southern branch, Hamad Abu Daa'bas, was relocated to the Ela Prison in Beersheba to await a hearing before the Ashkelon Magistrate's Court on their involvement with the flotilla. On June 6, Salah was released on NIS 150,000 bail, but placed under house arrest and temporarily barred from leaving Israel. Hours after he was released, Salah gave a speech in Umm al-Fahm, during which he claimed that Zionism "which began in Turkey, would end in Turkey".
Criticism of Israeli policy
On May 24, 2011, Salah addressed an audience of Arab-Israeli students from Tel Aviv University, where he reiterated his anti-occupation position stating: "We must keep fighting until we remove the Israeli occupation and free the holy Jerusalem."
2011 arrest in the United Kingdom
On Tuesday, June 28, 2011 after entering the country and making an appearance at a meeting in Leicester, Salah was detained in London. He had been due to attend a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting in the House of Commons on the following evening, attended by Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Yasmin Qureshi and Richard Burden. His request to be released on bail while awaiting the outcome of court proceedings despite the Home Office Secretary's decision to bar him from the country was granted on Friday, July 15. He was released on Monday, July 18, under strict conditions that include wearing an electronic tag, observing a night-time curfew, reporting to immigration officials, refraining from public-speaking and staying at the home of a friend.
Palestinians in the United Kingdom, Israel and the Palestinian territories accused the Israeli government of being behind the arrest. In a statement, Home Secretary Theresa May said, "I will seek to exclude an individual if I consider that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good, and the government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe that they might seek to undermine our society. Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who seek to subvert our shared values."
Fatah spokesman, Ousama al Qawasami, has said that the arrest of Sheikh Raed Salah in Britain will give Israel the green light on detention and deportation and is a decision in identification and congruity with Israeli policies of racial discrimination against Palestinians.
A judicial review of Britain's June arrest took place on September 30, 2011; the English High Court ruled that Salah was entitled to damages due to "wrongful detention". In response, Theresa May sought to ban Salah; a series of emails obtained reveal her correspondence with the Community Security Trust (CST), who consider Salah to be an anti-Semite. On October 26 an immigration tribunal concluded that May had been justified in her position. The tribunal stated that it is "satisfied that the appellant has engaged in the unacceptable behaviour of fostering hatred which might lead to intercommunity violence in the UK. We are satisfied that the appellant's words and actions tend to be inflammatory, divisive, insulting and likely to foment tension and radicalism."
Salah successfully appealed the decision when a tribunal ruled that the grounds for expelling him or denying him freedom of speech in Britain were too weak and that there was no reason to believe he was a danger to British society.
In a speech broadcast on Al Jazeera on September 21, 2012, Salah stated (as translated by MEMRI) "you haters, you midgets, you little insolent people – whether in America, in France, or in Denmark. ... You are slaves to global Zionism ... to Protestant Zionism ... to the Crusader hatred. You should know that we are coming to you with the compassion of Islam to deliver you from the ignominy of your slavery" which he explained was "the subjugation of your minds to the enterprise of Theodor Herzl and David Ben Gurion."
In his November 7, 2014 sermon in Nazareth, Salah said "Inshallah, Jerusalem will soon become the capital of the global caliphate."
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