Wednesday, 29 June 2011 10:58| MEMO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The facts and sequence of events surrounding Sheikh Raed Salah’s arrest
Sheikh Raed Salah arrived in London on Saturday 25th using his Israeli passport to enter Britain legally as he has done many times before. He was not questioned by anyone and there was no indication of the existence of an exclusion order. Over the past few days, Sheikh Salah has addressed MPs in the British parliament and has spoken in large public gatherings. His subsequent arrest last night will be challenged in the courts as unjustified. This seems to be the beginning of a worrying trend of persecution of Muslims and pro-Palestinian activists.
- Immediately after the Middle East Monitor [MEMO] announced that it was hosting Sheikh Raed Salah at a public lecture at Queen Mary University, a well-known pro-Israeli website circulated a catalogue of lies and fabrications about him which he has refuted for years.
- On Thursday, 16th June, he issued an unequivocal statement refuting the claims. He ordered lawyers in London to challenge these fabrications in the British High Court.
- On 24th June, lawyers acting on Sheikh Raed’s behalf served notice on Andrew Gilligan of the Daily Telegraph and Robyn Rosen of the Jewish Chronicle. These procedures began before Sheikh Raed entered the country and were publicly announced.
- None of the organisers of his lengthy schedule were contacted by the government or the police, either directly or indirectly, regarding the facts about him.
- He began his programme of engagements on Sunday, which was followed with a roundtable in Parliament on Monday 27th June where he was speaking to a number of MPs, Lords and researchers in Committee Room 2A, in which he spoke for an hour. There was still no indication that he had been banned.
- On the evening of Monday 27th he attended a crowded event in Conway Hall, Holborn, for almost three hours which was reported by the Jewish Chronicle. The Evening Standard claims he failed to appear. MEMO has a record of the event, with photos.
- No policemen were present at the public event to arrest or question him before, during or after the event, despite any claims to the contrary.
- Yesterday he made a speech in Leicester in front of an audience of more than one thousand for more than two hours. It was a successful event. And again, there were no police present.
- However, during the day, the Daily Mail and Evening Standard circulated news that a ban was issued last week but for one reason or another, the exclusion order had failed to be enacted and that he had sneaked in, implying that he is on the run.
- Lawyers contacted the Home Office in the afternoon asking for a clarification, although no one had contacted them. It is important to note that none of his legal representatives, who were widely known, were contacted. The Home Office refused to comment. Similarly, contact was made by the MPs and MEMO, and the Home Office again did not confirm or deny anything.
- Around 11pm on Tuesday evening, Sheikh Raed was arrested in his hotel and taken to Paddington Green Police Station by the UK Border Police.
- It is imperative to reiterate that he entered the country legally, with a legal Israeli passport and that the British government knew long in advance of his visit. They never contacted MEMO to find out the truth. The Sheikh himself was willing to challenge all the allegations in court. There were lies and fabrications made in the public domain, which he has rejected and he has never been charged with or convicted these alleged offences. He has expressed a willingness to challenge these in court.
- One example of the baseless lies circulated was published in the Evening standard alleging that he failed to turn up to the Conway Hall event. In fact he was there for three hours and spoke to a large audience there.
- Raed Salah is first and foremost the pre-eminent political leader of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Israel. He is one of the main leaders of the biggest political party among the 1.5 million Palestinians in Israel. His appeal goes well beyond Arab Israelis and he appeals to all Arabs and Muslims who see him as championing the issue of Occupied Jerusalem and the right of Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere. His name is synonymous with Jerusalem and he is well known.
- His treatment by the British government will not be taken lightly either here or abroad. By banning him after he began legal proceedings, it appears that the British government is seeking to obstruct the course of justice. He has already started legal action against those who circulated these rumours.
- This appears to be initiating a trend by which we can expect that all Muslim, Arabs and human rights activists will be judged by rumours and denied the right to challenge in court those who spread libellous rumours about them.
- The fact that we were not contacted shows recklessness and disdain for British citizens. If the authorities had wanted to ban him they had the opportunity to do it respectfully, but their recklessness is beyond imagination and it reflects the government’s draconian nature.
- Finally, MEMO understands that Sheikh Raed will challenge the deportation order in court. It is not he who is losing his reputation; he has been arrested in Israel on countless occasions for defending Palestinian rights, and now the British government is acting in the same way.
- It will curtail freedom of speech in this country. At a time when the universal laws to prevent war criminals to enter this country unchallenge are being threatened, the double standards are clear. They judge Muslims on rumours and fabrications and allow Israeli war criminals to enter.
- The Home Office have said that the deportation order was served as his deportation is deemed conducive to the public good under Section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1971.
For more information please contact Dr Hanan Chehata (Press Officer) on +44 (0)20 8838 0231 or +44 (0)7822 138 997
The Middle East Monitor is an independent media research institute founded in the United Kingdom in 2009 to foster a fair and accurate coverage of Middle Eastern issues and in particular the Palestine Question in the Western Media.
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