Muslim cleric heads to court to fight off deportation

2016-12-03 21:14
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Paterson - The leader of one of New Jersey's largest mosques is heading to court to fight from being deported after federal authorities say he lied on his green card application.

Imam Mohammad Qatanani told his congregation at the Islamic Centre of Passaic County that he will return to court on Monday, after the Department of Homeland Security appealed an immigration judge's decision not to deport him eight years ago after finding no credible links to terrorism, The Record (http://bit.ly/2gYYpqX ) reported.

Qatanani came to the US from Jordan. He was born in the West Bank and said that he had been detained by Israeli officials while visiting there in 1993.

Federal officials say that he didn't disclose being convicted in Israel for being a member of Hamas, but Qatanani denies that he was ever part of the group classified as a terrorist organisation by the US government. He says that he was only detained like many others at the time and was never told that he was convicted of anything.

His brother-in-law was a senior Hamas military leader killed by the Israelis, but Qatanani said in his 2008 trial that he did not participate with him in political activities.

"I know that justice will prevail and that everything will be in the right way. I believe in the judicial system in this country," said Qatanani.

Qatanani, 52, came to the US in 1996 on a religious worker visa to lead the Paterson mosque and has been credited with working with leaders of different faiths and law enforcement. He has worked on the New Jersey Attorney General's Office's Muslim outreach task force.
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