The British Muslim Initiative (BMI) has called on the Home Secretary to resign following the Upper Immigration Tribunal’s upholding of Sheikh Raed Salah’s appeal against a deportation order. Even though media interest in the story is growing at home and abroad, the fact that the decision of Mr. Justice Ockelton in favour of the Palestinian-Israeli community leader was released during the Easter holiday is seen as an attempt by the government to “bury” the bad news while parliament is in recess.
The senior immigration judge and Vice President of the Tribunal finished his ruling on 5 April, and said that Sheikh Raed’s appeal against the deportation order “succeeds on all grounds”. Justice Ockelton declared the arguments brought by Home Secretary Theresa May “to be very weak”. The BMI welcomed the learned judge’s conclusion “that there is no lawful basis for the Secretary of State to implement the exclusion order”, given that the order was based on bogus information submitted by pro-Israel groups in Britain.
BMI president Muhammad Sawalha called the ruling “unprecedented”. It is, he said, a great day for British justice. “The judge’s verdict that the Home Secretary was ‘misled’ by pro-Israel activists should not be taken lightly,” said Mr. Sawalha. “Mrs. May has more or less squandered hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money in the interests of a foreign country.”
The BMI noted that in this acute economic crisis it would be a travesty if the Home Secretary is allowed to waste more public money on a case that is manifestly contrary to Britain’s own national interests.
“The Home Secretary has done enormous damage to Britain’s image abroad,” added Mr Sawalha, “particularly in the Arab and Islamic worlds; she should either do the decent thing and resign or be sacked by the Prime Minister.”
Sheikh Salah’s success has a profound and lasting symbolic meaning. He came to Britain for 10 days in order to speak to Peers and Members of Parliament about the discrimination faced by Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories. This was enough for a vicious campaign to be launched to discredit him; he stayed in Britain for 10 months, not only because of the deportation order and the fight to clear his name, but also for the dignity of the Palestinian and Arab people.