Richard Burden MP and Yasmin Qureshi MP both agreed to share a platform with Raed Salah, who is presently awaiting deportation from this country.
Both have put out statements in near-identical terms.
I was invited to speak at a meeting organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) on the situation on East Jerusalem taking place this evening. East Jerusalem is becoming increasingly separated from the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory – physically, politically, socially and culturally. Palestinian residents in the city are facing eviction, house demolitions and forced displacement. It is important that we raise awareness of these issues in the UK and the wider international community.
Two weeks ago allegations of anti-Semitism were made against Raed Salah, who I was told was one of the other people PSC had invited to speak at this meeting. To my knowledge I have never met Mr Salah. I have no truck for anti-Semitism and I made it clear that I would not be willing to share a platform with such a person if these allegations were true.
The organisers of the meeting put these allegations to Raed Salah. He denied the statements that had been attributed to him and asked lawyers to begin legal action against those spreading the allegations. I am not aware of any evidence being produced to back up the allegations.
The Home Secretary has now ordered for Raed Salah to be detained and he was arrested by the UK Border Police late last night. However, it is not yet clear on what grounds he has been detained. It is not even clear whether the Home Office has confirmed that Raed Salah was banned from entering the country in the first place.
The Home Secretary must urgently clarify this situation. It is important that everyone should be aware of what is fact and what is conjecture. Guilt should be on the basis of evidence and conviction, not by innuendo, allegation or association.
I have been invited by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) to speak in a meeting due to be held this evening on Settlements in East Jerusalem. It is my understanding the meeting will be an important opportunity to engage in dialogue and raise awareness of the serious issues affecting those in Jerusalem.
I was recently informed of allegations made against one of the speakers invited by PSC to speak at the meeting. I do not personally know Raed Saleh but I have been closely observing the situation unfold. I condemn any form of racism, fascism, anti-Semitism or Islamaphobia. I have made it clear that I would not wish to share a platform if these allegations were true:
The organisers of the meeting have made the following statement since the arrest of Raed Saleh yesterday evening:
“The Sheikh entered the UK openly on 25 June and his schedule was known well in advance by UK authorities. This included a meeting in Parliament on 26 June and a public meeting the same night at Conway Hall, London, organised by PSC and MEMO on the subject of the Arab Spring and its impact on Palestine.
Despite this, the Sheikh was arrested in his hotel room last night under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1971. The Home Secretary, Teresa May, subsequently announced in the House of Commons that he was excluded from entering the UK. The government has not made clear when the ban was issued, and the Sheikh’s legal team had not been contacted.
The Sheikh has appealed against the deportation in court. His team had already begun legal proceedings against Daily Telegraph and Jewish Chronicle journalists for printing false allegations about him last week
As you can see, both MPs do not accept that there is valid evidence of their co-speaker’s vile views. Perhaps they need some more?
OK then. Raed Salah has denied none of the following statements, to my knowledge.
1. This is Raed Salah’s take on 9/11:
Raed Salah wrote in Saut Al-Haqq Wa-Al-Hurriyya, “A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened! Were 4,000 Jewish clerks absent [from their jobs] by chance, or was there another reason? At the same time, no such warning reached the 2,000 Muslims who worked every day in the Twin Towers, and therefore there were hundreds of Muslim victims.”
Do Burden and Qureshi accept that it is inappropriate to share a platform with a man who claims that Jews were pre-warned about 9/11 and stayed away in their thousands from the World Trade Center on that date?
2. Here is what Raed Salah’s Islamic Movement had to say about the death of Osama Bin Laden:
America, the Mother of Woes
On Monday the Islamic Movement released a statement condemning the assassination operation against Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, which was carried out by the USA in Pakistan. The statement says:
We in the Islamic Movement condemn the assassination operation against the sheikh, the martyr Osama Bin Laden, if [reports are] true, at the hands of the American security arms.
The assassination, if true, proves collusion of mercenaries who have sold their consciences to cursed Satan.
Muslims’ and Arabs’ blood isn’t a lever for US election candidates, and the killing of Sheikh Bin Laden, if true, will not end Muslims’ hatred of America’s oppression, the mother of woes.
“Allah has control over his affairs but most people do not know”
Do Burden and Qureshi accept that it is inappropriate to share a platform with a man whose political party publicly mourned the death of Bin Laden, who they called a “martyr” killed by the allies of “Satan”?
3. Here is Raed Salah on the subject of homosexuality. Reported in Haaretz:
“It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society. Those who believe in Allah know that behaviour of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen.”
Do Burden and Qureshi accept that it is inappropriate to share a platform with a man who is an outspoken homophobe?
4. Here is Raed Salah, on Monday night, at the Conway Hall (at 0:58):
“Their ultimate goal is to build an Israeli Temple at the expense of the Al Aqsa Mosque”
The lie that Israel is planning to demolish the Al Aqsa Mosque and replace it with a Temple is one which is deployed, cynically, in order to encourage rioting. This is precisely what happened in 2007.
And this week, Raed Salah snuck into Britain, and repeated that lie here, as well. To a London audience. He would have said that same thing, standing next to you two in Parliament. To a Muslim, it would have been the equivalent of telling a Sikh that the Golden Temple was to be knocked down by Muslims, or to a Catholic, that David Cameron planned to demolish Westminster Cathedral.
Do Burden and Qureshi accept that it is inappropriate to share a platform with a man who spreads inflammatory lies, which spread sectarian hatred, in this country?
These aren’t rhetorical questions. They are genuine ones. I honestly would like to know what Qureshi and Burden have to say to this evidence. Do they accept it? What is their answer?
We’ll happily publish their responses.
What they should be saying is that they were misinformed about the true politics of a man who is laughably described as “the Gandhi of Palestine” by the Middle East Monitor. They should also say that, now they have seen the evidence against him, they accept that it was an error to agree to appear on a platform with them, and that they congratulate the Coalition for excluding this man.
Or, even better, join with Yvette Cooper MP, the Shadow Home Secretary, in condemning the Coalition for its failure to implement the ban.
What about the other speakers at the event?
Well, Lord Dubs is cheerfully taking part in it. Let’s hope he pulls the other speakers up, if they try to defend Raed Salah:
Lord Dubs, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, has now said he will now speak at the event, having previously stood down due to “doubts” over Mr Salah.
He said: “Now that he is not going to take part, I’m going to be there. I can’t see any reason not to. It’s a legitimate debate.”
As for Jeremy Corbyn?
The MP for Islington North also rejected criticism of his decision to invite Mr Salah to Britain, adding: “He is recognised as an important figure in Israel and if there is to be any kind of peace process he will have to be part of the dialogue.
“We checked him out and he denied completely that he was an anti-Semite so we thought it was appropriate to bring him over.”
Well, there’s no persuading him.
As a footnote, who was the reporter who conveyed Raed Salah’s lies about the demolition of the Al Aqsa Mosque? Why, it was Press TV’s Roshan Muhammed Salih, an outspoken defender of the Iranian propaganda channel, which has been rapped by OFCOM for broadcasting a forced interview with a tortured Iranian journalist.