Palestinian clown released after 20 months in Israeli prison

Jerusalem Post — Aug 31, 2017

Mohammad Abu Sakhais fellow clowns demonstrate in solidarity with their detained colleague. Click to enlarge

Mohammad Abu Sakhais fellow clowns demonstrate in solidarity with their detained colleague. Click to enlarge

On Thursday, 26 years old Mohammad Abu Sakha told AFP he was released the day before from administrative detention, the controversial measure under which Israel detains suspects without trial.

The procedure allows Israel to keep suspects in prison for very long stretches of time without needing to begin a legal procedure or even informing the people arrested why they are being held.

Abu Sakha returned to the northern West Bank city of Jenin, where family and friends were waiting to welcome him.

“It was like a party,” he said to AFP.

Abu Sakha had been part of the Palestinian Circus School in Bir Zeit in the West Bank since 2008, first as a student and later as a clown and teacher.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency accused him of being a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel considers a terrorist group because of its armed wing.

Amnesty International had called for his release.

“Israel arrests people every day, and closes them off economically,” he said to AFP. “The circus gives people hope.”

He said he would pick up his involvement with the arts of the circus and education.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

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