Israel: Senior Israeli Muslim Cleric Convicted of Assault

( Senior Israeli Muslim cleric Sheikh Raad Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, was convicted Thursday of rioting and of assaulting a police officer. The crimes in question were committed during Muslim riots in 2007 protesting Israeli construction in Jerusalem's Old City.

Salah and dozens of others took part in a violent demonstration against a construction project near the Kotel (Western Wall of the Temple) aimed at shoring up an area that had collapsed. The rioters accused Israel of conducting the repair work in an attempt to damage the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

Police officers faced off against the rioters and began moving them away from the Kotel, toward the nearby neighborhood of Mei Shiloach (Silwan). The rioters, among them Salah, sat down and refused to move.

As police attempted to distance the violent rally from the construction project, Sheikh Salah approached officer Yigal Zinger and spit in his face. Salah called Zinger and other officers “racists” and “murderers.”

Jerusalem Magistrate's Court judge Yitzchak Shimoni ruled that Salah's actions were intended to prevent Zinger from performing his duty.

Salah was arrested last month as well, in connection to violent riots in Jerusalem following allegations that Jews were attempting to pray on the Temple Mount. He is suspected of incitement and sedition in connection to the October riots.

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