Last updated: 10 April, 2014

Firebrand Arab-Israeli cleric in trouble with law again

An Israeli court Thursday found Islamic cleric Sheikh Raed Salah guilty of obstructing the work of police when they quizzed and searched his wife, the firebrand’s latest run-in with the law.

The court said Salah, an Arab-Israeli, had “interrupted” police officers when they questioned his wife at the Allenby border crossing between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan.

Salah was himself questioned and searched on his way back into Israel in April 2011, said the ruling of the Jerusalem magistrate’s court.

But when a female officer wanted to search his wife, he began yelling and was eventually restrained by other police while the search took place.

The preacher then broke free from their hold and attempted to charge into the room where the search was being carried out.

The judge said he took into account that Salah’s “religious beliefs” led him to fear his “honour could be compromised” which evoked “strong emotions, that affected his actions”.

But he added that “the defendant knowingly executed a series of deeds aimed at interrupting the police and thwarting their act of searching” his wife.

Salah, leader of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, is no stranger to run-ins with the authorities.

Last month he was sentenced to eight months in prison for inciting Muslims to violence over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.

In 2010, he spent five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman.

The court has yet to sentence him over his latest conviction.

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its perceived links with the militant Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other Muslim groups worldwide.