To Home Secretary:I am writing regarding our British Government’s treatment of Sheikh Raed Salah.
As a British Palestinian and a senior member of the Arab community here in the UK, I feel that the events surrounding his arrest are unfair, dishonest, self defeating and sends all the wrong message to the Arab world and ultimately unfitting of a government that is supposed stand up for truth and justice.Raed Salah is the pre-eminent political leader of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Israel. He is the leader of a legitimate political party in Israel and the main leader of the biggest political party among the 2 million Palestinians in Israel. His appeal goes well beyond Arab Israelis to millions of Arabs and Muslims around the world who see him as defending freedom and fighting against injustice and occupation. It’s a sad fact that our British Government has now joined the Israeli occupying forces in arresting the man who has spent his life campaigning against Israeli occupation. This can in no way further British interest. Given his status, his treatment is scandalous, especially as he entered the UK legally, with our British government knowing long in advance of his arrival, to address British members of Parliament and many British organizations here in the UK.During his visit, there has been a vicious campaign to smear his name. He has issued unequivocal statements rejecting these claims and even put his trust in the British justice system and ordered his lawyers to challenge these fabrications in the British High Courts.I totally reject our government’s position that this decision is about the public good. Raed Salah is unlike other controversial figures who the British government denied entry to the UK because of divisive and inflammatory views. For our government to equate hatemonger’s with Raed Salah, who is fighting political injustice and denial of freedom to millions of Palestinians is grossly mistaken. Either our government is incompetent or it has cowered to the venomous campaign against him. Given the facts around his entry it’s very unlikely that it was a mistake, and its decision to arrest and deport him will be seen as our government taking sides in a public debate about occupation and injustice in Palestine by arresting the very symbol against occupation and injustice in Palestine. If it was a mistake on the part of our government, the least it could have done was to allow the legal proceedings to clear his name against the lies and accusations in British courts. His treatment by our British government will not be taken lightly either here or abroad. By banning him after he began legal proceedings, it appears that our government is seeking to obstruct the course of justice. He has already started legal action against those who circulated these rumors. I wonder if you’ve been advised wisely about Raed Salah. I also wonder if you actually realize the damage done to our British interest in the Middle East and the Muslim World as a result of this decision. Al Aqsa is the third holy place in the Muslim world and he is one of the most popular cleric respected by secular and non secular Muslims. If you want to discuss his appeal around the Muslim World, I, as a member of the Arab and Muslim community here in the UK, would be willing to meet you. I am deeply saddened by the decision you have taken and ashamed of my governments inability to think through this debacle clearly and come out on the side of those who are standing against occupation and injustice in Palestine. For those in the Arab and Muslim world I’m fearful that it will again be seen as an example of inconsistency between our policy in the Middle East and our actions. I hope you will reconsider your decision to deport Sheikh Raed Salah.Your’s sincerelyMr Majed Al Zeer (General Director of The Palestinian Return Centre)