Leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch Sheikh Raed Salah has
arrived in London and nearly made an appearance in British parliament despite being banned from entering the country. He was arrested late on Tuesday night.
The British Daily Mail reported Tuesday that Salah was invited by Labor MPs to attend a pro-Palestinian event in parliament. On Saturday, he landed at Heathrow Airport and passed immigration checks despite a decision made last week by Home Secretary Theresa May to ban him from the country.
Salah managed to escape police and border control forces until Tuesday. On Monday, he gave a lecture to a crowd of 500 Muslims in London on the effect of the "Arab spring" on Palestinians.
Salah. Passed Heathrow immigration checks (Archive photo: Gil Yohanan)
Palestinian journalist Adnan Hamdan told Al Jazeera that "pro-Israeli elements and Zionist institutions managed to get a restraining order against Salah." He claimed the cleric was arrested in an "inhumane manner" in the middle of the night by British police. The reporter noted a deportation order was issued against Salah.
The British government banned Salah from entering the UK because of his radical views. He has served time in Israeli jails for assaulting a police officer and holding contact with a foreign agent. Salah also participated in the Gaza flotilla last year. Earlier this week, conservative MP Mike Freer accused him of "virulent anti-Semitism. "
Salah's spokesman said he did not have problem entering the UK. "He presented his passport. He was asked only a couple of questions about the purpose of his visit," he said.
Home Secretary May is said to be furious with the UK Border Agency and has demanded that whoever allowed Salah to enter be fired.
Salah was meant to speak at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign event in parliament alongside Labor MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burden and Yasmin Qureshi.
The affair has caused considerable embarrassment to the Labor Party.
The MPs were asked party leadership not to appear alongside Salah and parliament banned the event. .
Meanwhile, Jewish leaders were outraged at the affair. Mark Gardner, on behalf of the Jewish groups the Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust, said: "We deplore those MPs and other public figures who promote this man and thereby undermine the Government's anti-extremism efforts."
'Salah is a political figure' (Photo: George Ginsburg)
Arab MKs were outraged at the arrest. "Instead of supporting our just struggle for democracy, freedom and political activism British authorities are condoning Israeli policy of persecution against Arabs," MK Hanin Zoabi said.
She claimed there was no legal basis for Salah's arrest and pointed a finger at Israel. "The primary cause for the arrest is Israeli pressure and the pressure of Zionist elements inside Britain."
The MK called for Salah's release. "I suggest that the British act more wisely in matters pertaining to Palestinians' rights in Israel. We as Arab leaders must act more vigorously on the international level so the world will understand Israel's racist policy against us."
MK Jamal Zahalka said he intends to turn to the British embassy in Israel and ask for Salah release.
"This is a political figure and his arrest hurts the Arab public," he said. He also pointed a finger at Israel and noted that the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee will convene a special meeting.
"The Brits have apparently fallen for the State of Israel's trap and have arrested the sheikh for no justified cause," he said. MK Zahalka also insinuated there may be protest in response.
Members of the Islamic Movement also slammed the move and called for Salah's release.
Hassan Shaalan contributed to this report