Raed Salah loses initial appeal against deportation from UK

Palestinian popular leader and activist Sheikh Raed Salah’s appeal against deportation from the UK was rejected by the First Tier Tribunal, an immigration court, it emerged today. The full ruling has yet to be released to the public, but was sent to the parties (Salah and the UK Border Agency) yesterday today (correction: in fact, the ruling was made on Tuesday but sent to the parties on Wednesday).

My full report for Electronic Intifada will follow soon.My full report for EI has now been published.

Salah is now likely to appeal to a higher court, and has five days to decide. If he does, he will have to remain in the UK on restrictive bail conditions (including a ban on speaking publicly). Salah was arrested in June, three days after entering the country legally on 25 June. Home Secretary Theresa May had used a fabricated claim of anti-Semitism to ban him from the country, but had neglected to inform Salah or his tour organisers before he traveled. 

The logic of this judgement in favour of the government is essentially that, although the substance of the UK Border Agency’s accusations against Salah was false, the Home Secretary has this mandate to ban people form the country it deems “unconducive to the public good”.

In a press release today, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) released extracts from and analysis of the full judgement, describing it as “staggeringly unjust”. MEMO organised public speaking events for Salah’s tour in June, and has been close to him throughout the case. Extracts of the press release are below.

The tribunal determined that Theresa May had acted within her powers to deport the leading Palestinian political activist on the grounds of his alleged “unacceptable behaviour”. However, it also determined that “it is not necessary to satisfy the criteria of unacceptable behaviour for words and actions to be racist as such…” and that this criteria “might be achieved by words and actions which are not necessarily racist”.

The tribunal acknowledged that… a poem written by him that was alleged to be racist was in fact clearly not “directed at the Jewish people as a whole but only at those among them who aim at Israeli territorial expansion and control at the expense of Palestinians”.

It is also a sad day for British justice when a tribunal of such importance can concede that “it is of concern that apparently the Secretary of State did not consult with any Muslim or Palestinian organisations” on this “particularly sensitive issue”; acknowledge that the evidence against Sheikh Salah was provided primarily by the Community Security Trust and Board of Deputies of British Jews which “failed to distinguish between anti-Semitism and criticism of the actions of the Israeli state and therefore gives an unbalanced perspective”; and still rule in favour of the Home Secretary.