How did Sheikh Raed Salah enter the UK?
Sheikh Raed Salah, a leading Palestinian voice from within Israel, three times elected Mayor of the Palestinian city Umm al-Fahm, and the head of the largest civil body in Israel, has been denied bail following Home Secretary Theresa May’s sanctioning of his arrest and illegal detention.
But the media campaign, sequence of events, and political manoeuvring surrounding the detention of the Sheikh, leave little doubt as to the government’s view of those who would champion the rights of the Palestinian people.
We are used to seeing the ongoing persecution of the Palestinian people away from the safety of our shores, but we are not used to seeing it here in the UK.
And that’s what this amounts to. The political persecution and imprisonment of an innocent man, on the receiving end of government hypocrisy, justified by a crime he has not committed-a bit like the Orwellian thought police.
The initial reason given for the exclusion order by the Home Office was that the Sheikh’s visit was “Not conducive to the public good”.
Interesting then that he was allowed to enter the country unchallenged In the first place.
When Salah entered the UK using his Israeli passport at Heathrow airport on June 28th, scheduled to participate in a series of speaking engagements including an address to Parliament, he was neither questioned nor detained.
Indeed, there seems to be some confusion over the whole debacle, which became evident when the Rt Hon Theresa May struggled to give an adequate explanation for the extraordinary sequence of events, during the subsequent Home Affairs Committee Q and A session chaired by Keith Vaz MP.
It seems strange that a person detained and deemed a threat would be allowed to just waltz into Heathrow airport unchallenged, and furthermore address Parliament-which he subsequently did. Theresa May has, however, ordered an inquest into the matter, saying “We do not normally comment on individual cases but in this case I think it is important to do so. I can confirm he was excluded and that he managed to enter the UK. He has now been detained and the UK Border Agency is making arrangements to remove him. A full investigation is now taking place into how he was able to enter.”
The reason as to why the Sheikh was able to enter the country freely is simply because he has never been convicted of committing any race hate crimes In Israel contrary to the right wing accusations. He is an innocent man.
The line towed by the Home Office, supported by a handful of newspapers-who are now being legally challenged for their remarks about the Sheikh-is that the visit was somehow dangerous and “non-conducive to a multicultural society.”
Given that the Sheikh has spoken at many international venues including Tel Aviv University, the move is nonsensical and unjustified. The argument falls flat.
It seems our Home Secretary has surpassed the Israeli state’s own watermark of political silencing by denying the right to free speech and is striking out on her own.
The question that must be asked is why after weeks of the Sheikh’s visits being public, and enquires made by Salah’s legal team as to his status in the UK, the Home Office waited until they did to arrest the Sheikh at his hotel.
Furthermore if the Sheikh is deported he will have been denied the opportunity to clear his name in court which he has stated he wishes to do.
This episode is a political statement, itself the result of political pressure from the Israeli lobby.
So too is the treatment of Sheikh Raed. According to his legal team speaking outside the court on Saturday after his request for bail was denied, he was also denied his basic legal rights for four days.
Sheikh Salah’s fight for justice represents one man’s pursuit for freedom, but the whole saga is symbolic and indicative of the wider fight for the Palestinian people, struggling against an ongoing illegal occupation, illegal settlements ever expanding, and continued persecution preventing even their voices from being heard.Home Secretary, israel, Palestine, Sheikh Raed Salah, theresa may
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