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Middle East
Israel frees Muslim activist
Leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel is freed after serving five-month sentence for assaulting a police officer.
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2010 09:37 GMT
Salah was convicted in July for participating in riots and attacking a police officer [EPA]

The leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel has been released from prison after serving a five-month prison sentence.

Raed Salah was convicted of assault in July for an incident that took place in 2007 during a demonstration in occupied East Jerusalem, in which court documents suggested he insulted a border policeman and spat in his face. 

The sentence was nine months initially, but it was reduced to five months by a Jerusalem court. Salah has always denied the charges. 

The alleged assault was said to have occurred during a protest as the Israeli authorities were carrying out restoration work near the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The compound is the third holiest site for Muslims and the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. It has been the scene of several outbreaks of violence over the course of the decades-old Israeli-Arab conflict.

'Political reasons'

The Palestinian Ma'an news agency quoted Kamal Al-Kahtib, the deputy leader of the Islamic Movement, as saying: "We believe that the imprisonment was unfair, because the arrest was carried out for political reasons. It had nothing to do with justice nor with the details of the fabricated charges."

"The aim was to pressure Salah to prevent him from communicating with the Palestinians specifically on their two main issues Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque."

Salah has been detained by Israel on a number of occasions. On June 1, he was arrested over his participation the Gaza aid flotilla, which was raided by Israeli forces as it tried to bring supplies to the blockaded territory in May.

Salah is a resident of Umm al-Fahm, the second biggest Arab city in Israel and the centre of the Islamic Movement.

The Islamic Movement in Israel was founded in 1971 with the aim of advocating Islam among Palestinian-Israelis.

It operates on three levels: religious [Islamic education, religious service], social [welfare services] and nationalistic [opposition to the state of Israel and support for Palestinian nationalism].

The groups' ideology is closely related to that of its mother organisation - the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and Agencies
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