Risalat Al-Ikhwan, the London based Muslim Brotherhood weekly bulletin has promoted a hashtag campaign in solidarity with Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. This is a group considered ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood’s online Wikipedia (IkhwanWiki) includes Salah under the category of the MB’s leading figures in Palestine. The Arabic “I stand in solidarity with Raed Salah” hashtag was being shared online by supporters in February of this year.
Raed Salah had been banned from entering the UK, but spent several months in the country after being detained in June 2011 upon landing at Heathrow Airport on his way to attend a Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) meeting in the House of Commons. In September 2011, the UK High Court ruled in a damages claim that Salah had been wrongly detained, and in April 2012, he successfully appealed the Upper Immigration Tribunal against the Home Office which wanted to deport him.
Nevertheless, the immigration tribunal also judged in 2012 that comments previously made by Salah could not be regarded as “anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews.” These remarks and others became the subject of particular controversy during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader of the Labour Party, given that as a backbench MP Mr Corbyn had invited Salah to visit the House of Commons.
On its website, Risalat al-Ikhwan had stated, “in the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. In solidarity with Sheikh Raed Salah,” before making a call to embrace and publish the hashtag in solidarity with Salah, who was referred to as “the symbol of steadfastness in the face of the oppressors.”
A story from February by the London based pro-Islamist news website Middle East Monitor (MEMO), stated that Raed Salah’s lawyer has claimed that Salah has been held in solitary confinement since he was jailed in Israel on 15 August 2020. According to the MEMO piece, his lawyer also accused Israel of putting pressure on Salah “to stop defending Al-Aqsa Mosque and give up his opposition to the violations committed by the military occupation”.
Raed Salah was imprisoned for 28 months for inciting terror and membership in an illegal organisation. This was after he had spoken in support of a terror attack on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in July 2017, that left two police officers dead and added to regional tensions. According to an Israeli think-tank, the three attackers proclaimed during the attack; “We are from Sheikh Raed Salah’s people”.
The Qatari supported portal Arabi21 has reported that the hashtag supporting Salah was launched by “Palestinian and Arab activists”. While the original source for the hashtag is unconfirmed, it has been widely used by the Global Coalition for Al-Quds and Palestine (GCQP), a Turkey-based group.
Earlier in March, GCQP co-organised an online conference in support of Raed Salah with the participation of Islamist figures, including individuals from the UK. The event page for the conference shows those attending from the UK as Daud Abdullah (of MEMO), Anas Altikriti (of the Cordoba Foundation), Ismail Patel (of Friends of Al Aqsa), and Azzam Tamimi (an academic and freelance presenter for the Alhiwar Channel). The GCQP is headed by Himam Sa’id, the former General Supervisor of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.