I was deeply disturbed to learn Sheikh Raed Salah is under threat of deportation on grounds that this action would be “conducive to the public good” (Inquiry after banned Palestinian enters UK, 30 June). On the contrary, it would be very harmful to the public good, at least if the public good is construed as encouraging free and open discussion of issues of great significance. Sheikh Salah, former mayor of the most important Arab town in Israel, Umm al Fahm, has played a very important role as a representative of the Arab community, domestically and internationally. He has been a respected voice advocating rights and justice, a voice that most definitely should be heard in the west. I trust that this decision of the government will be rescinded, that he will be released from detention without delay, and that he will be able to continue with his talks and discussions in Britain.
How interesting that the same Mike Freer MP who demanded the banning of Sheikh Raed Salah from Britain should also have, in effect, supported the entry of suspected Israeli war criminals into this country. As my constituency MP, he brusquely rejected my appeal in November 2010 to vote against the government’s proposed change to the law of universal jurisdiction, which would make it easier for visiting Israelis accused of alleged war crimes to evade arrest here. By contrast, Sheikh Raed has committed no crime in Britain or elsewhere. But perhaps his criticism of Israel’s policies against his fellow Palestinians is the real crime for Freer and other supporters of Israel.
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