Thousands of Arab residents of Israel protested on Saturday in Nazareth in support to Dr. Azmi Bishara, the former Arab member of Knesset, after the Israeli Authorities claimed this week that he is suspected of carrying “serious security violations”.Among the protesters were several leaders of Arab political parties in Israel, and the family of Bishara.
The protesters carried photos of Bishara and placards reading “My guilt is that I love my homeland”, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.
Haaretz added that Bishara spoke over phone to the protesters saying “Our words and intellects are our weapon, I never drew in my life, never killed anyone”.
Chairman of the Arab Monitoring Committee, Shawqi Khateeb, spoke to the protesters and said that the entire Arab public is united in support to Bishara, and against this indictment.
Khateeb also said that in spite of the division in the Arab sectors, all Arabs in Israel are united on the most important issues.
Haaretz also reported that Khateeb addressed the Israeli public and said that “their approach is destructive to both Arabs and Jews”, and added “We are the salt of the earth, the original stewards of the, land and our equality must be assured."
Khateeb stated that these charges against Bishara are resulted from the failures of the Israeli government.
Also, Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, said that the Arabs are staying here, steadfast like the olive trees.
Bishara denied all accusations which included “assistance to the enemy in the time of war”, “passing information to an enemy”, and “contacting a foreign agent”.
Bishara also said that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party had more intelligence information on Israel than he does, and added that he does not believe that he will receive a fair trial in Israel.
Israel lifted the parliamentary immunity that Bishara enjoyed, and a document released on Thursday revealed that the police will arrest him when he returns to Israel. He is currently in Egypt, and he also resigned from the Knesset at the Israeli Embassy in Egypt earlier this week.
Bishara said in an interview with the Al Ahram Egyptian daily that he received several offers of shelter in Arab countries, including Egypt.
In an interview with the Al Hiyat daily, Bishara said that he does not intend to become a political refugee although several countries offered him political asylum.
Nevertheless, the Israeli police raided hi offices and threatened to arrest him.
Dr. Azmi Bishara was born in Nazareth in 1956, he is the founding member of the National Democratic Assembly and a winner of the IBN RUSHD Prize for Freedom of Thought 2002.