Residents of the Arab-Israeli community of Kfar Kanna say they are furious over and puzzled by the arrest of village resident Dr. Omar Said on espionage charges.
Said, a longtime activist in the Balad Party, was detained along with writer Ameer Makhoul on suspicions of espionage and contacts with a foreign agent. His wife, Ina'am, and his five children spent the day in their living room, surrounded by dozens of supportive relatives and family friends.
"This is clearly political persecution," Said's wife said. "My husband is a good man who engages in alternative medicine alongside legal political activity. On April 24th, several people arrived home with him and presented an arrest warrant; they didn't allow me to talk to him."
Said with wife and daughter (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)
"I didn't understand what they wanted, but I felt humiliated by the despicable behavior towards me and towards him," she said.
"Omer is a successful and intelligent guy, and this apparently bothers many people," the angry wife said. "The entire village, the party, and many citizens support him and the family – and I believe that his innocence will be proven soon."
Ina'am said she had been married to Said for 18 years, and that he was persecuted 20 years ago already.
"They threatened him and placed him under house and administrative arrests, yet they found nothing against him," she said. "I'm proud of the children who are holding up in this difficult situation, because they too know that their father didn't do what they're trying to attribute to him.
'A media spin'Said's preservatives said that Omar was en route to Jordan when he was detained near the Sheikh Hussein crossing point. Investigators seized computers and discs at his home that included, among other things, school materials belonging to his daughter, the relatives said.
Said has not been allowed to meet his children since he was arrested, they added.
Meanwhile, orange posters hung around the village, alongside Said's photo, read: "The Balad Party seeks to release leader Said." Notably, Said was among the party's founders 15 years ago, yet at the same time has been active for dozens of years in far Left movement Bnei Hakfar.
Village residents dismissed the charges against Said and expressed their confidence that he will not be found guilty.
"To my regret, there is an effort to tie him to offences which I believe will never be proven, because there is no substance in them," relative Hisham Said said.
Omar's brother, Abdul Salame Said, summed up the prevalent sentiments in Kfar Kanna: "This is more than persecution. He's been marked many years ago. This time too, it's a media spin that will end with a small headline - starting with a bang and ending with a whimper"