‘Peace loving’ imam who supports Hamas massacre gets out of jail easy

Police say Fureidis preacher Hassan Meri incites against Israel in his sermons; town says he is a “peace-loving man.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Haifa judge extended the remand of an imam whom the police suspect of inciting against Israel in his speeches, by only one day instead of the six that the authorities requested, Walla reported Sunday.

Although the current charges against Hassan Meri are being a public nuisance and issuing threats, the police representative told the Magistrates Court that there is a request pending at the State Attorney’s Office for an investigation against the imam for the much more serious offense of incitement.

Chief Inspector Jamil Isami said that over the course of the last several Friday prayers in his mosque in the Arab-Israeli town of Fureidis, in front of hundreds of worshipers in person and to thousands of others listening to him on Facebook, Meri “encourages battle, provokes and incites the audience against the State of Israel.”

The police transcribe his speeches, Isami testified, and “from week to week his sermons are getting worse.” This past Friday, he said, Meri had stated that he “supports the actions of Hamas and does not condemn them,” and “spoke of 15,000 shahids (holy martyrs) who were victorious over the [IDF] tanks.” The week before he had stated that “the State of Israel delayed the ceasefire in order to kill as many people as possible.”

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When they arrested him on Friday, several Palestinian and Hamas flags were found in his possession, Isami said.

The police representative added that the residents of the nearby Jewish town of Zichron Yaakov have become fearful of entering Fureidis “following the threats of Imam Meri.”

Judge Ayelet Hashahar Bitton-Perla rejected the request for the longer extension of custody, saying that “based on the evidence that has been gathered to this point,” she would not recommend holding the imam until the State Attorney’s Office makes a decision regarding the police suspicions.

Meri’s lawyers expressed satisfaction with the decision.

“We happy that the court was impressed by our argument, and did not accede to the unreasonable and unfounded request of the police,” they said. “We agreed to a measured extension of the detention for the purpose of completing the investigation, and we are sure that over its course the whole truth will come to light and it will become clear, as we claim, that nothing ever happened.”

The 64-year old imam is a prominent member of Fureidis, being the brother of the late, previous head of the town’s council and the uncle of the current head. The townspeople deny that he incited against Israel, calling him “a peace-loving man,” said the report.