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Without Explanation, ICE Wants to Deport a Well-Regarded Local Imam

Imam Safdar Razi

Yesterday, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Plano's Safdar Razi -- "a former Austin imam whose interfaith work made him one of the most recognized Muslim leaders in Central Texas" -- is being detained at a Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Dallas. In fact, he's been here since Wednesday, and his stay might not be long: His Dallas-based attorney, Karen Pennington, says ICE is trying to deport Razi to Pakistan, even though he hasn't lived there since he was a little boy. Razi and his family, who moved to Texas from Qatar in 2000, have lived in Plano for the last few months, after being taken in by members of the Institute of Islamic Learning in Metroplex, reports the paper. And his attorney says returning him to Pakistan would be "a death sentence" for the Shiite scholar who, in 2006, wrote "Clearing up misconceptions of Islam." Says Pennington: "Shiites are killed there with near impunity, and his interfaith work would almost certainly make him a target." The piece also describes the state of the Dallas detention center:

Effendi said Razi called the mosque Thursday to request food because the detention center was serving pork, which Muslims avoid for religious reasons.

When members of the mosque tried to bring food, phone cards and money to Razi, a guard told them that there was no such prisoner, Effendi said.

On Friday morning, Razi called again.

"Please bring me something," Effendi said he asked in a tired voice. "Please bring me water. I haven't eaten in two days."

Effendi said Razi described the center as ice cold with 50 people in one room.

ICE officials never spoke to the Austin paper. Unfair Park has placed calls and left messages this morning as well. --Robert Wilonsky

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