JERUSALEM (JTA) — Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah was convicted of incitement to violence.
Salah, who leads the movement’s northern branch, was found guilty by the Jerusalem Magistrates’ court on Thursday. He was acquitted on a charge of incitement to racism.
The charges were connected to a Salah speech in February 2007 in which he declared at the Mughrabi Gate, near the Temple Mount, “Our best moments will be when we meet God as martyrs in the Al-Aksa Mosque.” He called on Muslims to prevent the “dangerous mass invasion into Al Aksa” with their bodies.”
“Now it is their duty to initiate an Islamic intifada from sea to sea in support of the holy Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aksa mosque,” he said.
The racial hatred charge was removed after the judges said his remarks relating to a blood libel were unclear.
“We have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood,” Salah said. “Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread.”
Salah told the court he was not referring to Jewish blood libels but to the era of the Crusades when children were murdered.
Rioting followed Salah’s speech, during which three Israeli police officers were injured.