Banned preacher to challenge Theresa May

By Robyn Rosen, June 30, 2011
Sheikh Raed Salah

Sheikh Raed Salah

An Islamic speaker with a "history of virulent antisemitism" plans to appeal against a decision by the Home Secretary to deport him after he breached a ban to enter Britain.

Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, spoke at three events in London and Leicester before he was detained in his hotel room on Tuesday evening, a day before he was due to share a platform with MPs in the House of Commons.

The Home Office said he had been accused of making antisemitic remarks and was not allowed into this country because his presence would be "not conducive to the public good".

MP Mike Freer asked Home Secretary Theresa May about the case in the Commons on Monday, accusing Sheikh Salah of having a history of virulent antisemitism.

Mrs May said a full investigation into how he was able to enter the country had begun. "I can confirm he was excluded and that he managed to enter the UK," she said. "He has now been detained and the UK Border Agency is now making arrangements to remove him."

His solicitors said he entered the country using his Israeli passport and was not aware of any exclusion order made by the Home Secretary. They also said he would "challenge the lawfulness of this decision in the courts".

Sheikh Salah arrived on Saturday and spoke to MPs and peers at the House of Lords on Monday at a meeting convened by Baroness Tonge, but without the consent of the Liberal Democrats.

That evening, he addressed an audience at Conway Hall about the Arab Spring's effect on Palestinians, and spoke in Leicester on Tuesday.

He was due to speak at the House of Commons on Wednesday night. The meeting, chaired by Jeremy Corbyn MP, went ahead with speakers including Ismail Patel, from the Friends of Al Aqsa, Diane Neslen from Jews for Justice for Palestine, Labour MPs Yasmin Qureshi and Richard Burden and Labour peer and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, Lord Dubs.

Baroness Tonge told the audience that she believed that the "Israel lobby" was "at work. They have done it on arrest warrants... they have lobbied on that and are getting their way. I suspect they have lobbied on this issue [Mr Salah] and I am deeply ashamed and am considering my future within the [LibDem] party."

Mr Corbyn said: "There is an interesting correlation between the orchestrated campaign by the Daily Mail and Evening Standard [against Mr Salah] and the decision that he was not allowed to remain in this country."

Mark Gardner, from the Community Security Trust, said: "The pro-Palestinian movement claims to be anti-racist but it is willingly blind to the antisemitic world view of its Islamist partners.

"Worse still, they lie that Jewish concerns over this antisemitism is a fake cover for Israel. It seems ridiculous that extremists like Salah cannot be kept out of the Palace of Westminster and that we have seen this outrageous situation occur many times over the years."

But a lawyer for Mr Salah, Farooq Bajwa, said: "The facts that we know are very clear - he has universally and consistently condemned all forms of racism, including antisemitism."

Last updated: 1:37pm, June 30 2011