|AIC Program Director Sergio Yahni Detained by Israeli Police after Filming|
|Written by The Alternative Information Center (AIC)|
|Tuesday, 25 November 2008|
Sergio Yahni, the Program Director of the Alternative Information Center (AIC),
was detained on 25 November by Israeli police while filming construction of the
Museum of Tolerance, being built on the Ma’man Allah Islamic Cemetery in West
Sergio Yahni, the Program Director of the Alternative Information Center (AIC), was
detained this afternoon (1:30 p.m., 25 November) by Israeli police while filming
construction of the Museum of Tolerance, being built on the Ma’man Allah Islamic
Cemetery in West Jerusalem.
Because the site for the planned museum is surrounded by a fence unusually
high for construction sites in Israel, Yahni climbed to the roof of a nearby building
under construction in order to film work in the cemetery. As he filmed, Israeli
police suddenly appeared and arrested him on the spot, taking him to the
Russian Compound police station in Jerusalem.
No sign was posted at the construction site, warning against trespassing and
no verbal warnings were given to Yahni that it was illegal to climb on the roof
of the building. However, following interrogation, the police confiscated Yahni’s
film showing the destruction of the Ma’man cemetery and only through the
intervention of Attorney Lea Tsemel did the police agree to return his video
camera, a primary working tool of the AIC. The Israeli General Security Services
(GSS) were also notified of Yahni’s filming.
“The Israeli authorities have proven their determination in preventing local
and international publics from learning more about the destruction of the Ma’man
Allah Islamic Cemetery,” notes Connie Hackbarth, Executive Director of the AIC.
“Sergio was clearly detained for his work to expose this additional attempt by Israel,
in this case together with those claiming to promote tolerance, to erase Muslim
and Palestinian history in Jerusalem.”
The police are legally allowed to retain the film of the Alternative Information Center
for 120 days.
The historic Ma’man Allah Islamic Cemetery, which contains the graves of numerous
Muslim leaders, was founded in the 13th century and is regarded as sacred. In 2004,
the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles based Jewish organization (“focusing
on racism in America and the history of the Holocaust ”) started to plan the
construction of a US$250 million Museum of Tolerance, on top of the Islamic Cemetery.
The construction was put on hold in 2006 because of legal proceedings against the
destruction of the Ma’man Cemetery but on 29 October 2008, the Israeli High Court
gave the final “green light” for the creation of the Museum of Tolerance, and the