Senior Palestinian Cleric Starts Prison Term
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The head of the northern branch of the Palestinian Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, has started a 9-month prison sentence Sunday on charges of “fomenting riots” at East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Salah was accompanied by about 100 well-wishers as he arrived at Ohalei Kedar Prison, located north of the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, an AFP journalist said.
"It is an honor for me to enter prison to defend and protect Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem," he said.
"I enter prison by the will of God, not the will of Netanyahu."
An Israeli court had initially sentenced the influential Palestinian cleric to 11 months in prison.
The case was brought against Salah after he delivered a sermon in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood near occupied East al-Quds in 2007, in which he condemned “Israeli racist policies in al-Quds.”
On April 18, Israel’s so-called High Court of Justice reduced Salah’s original 11-month sentence to nine months.
Salah's lawyer Omar Khamayseh said that his client "was not afraid of going to prison for something he believes in wholeheartedly, even though going to prison is not something he aspires to.”
“Sheikh Salah has been defending Muslims’ rights to worship and speaking out against Israel’s unjust treatment of Arab citizens in Israel as well as Palestinians in the occupied territories. Israel is making him pay a price for his stances,” he said.
Salah said he was determined to continue his activism despite the prison sentence.
“I will continue upholding and defending al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque even stronger than before, inside and outside my prison cell,” he said.