Huntsville leader ‘paying terrible price,’ attorney says

The religious leader of the Alabama Islamic Education Center in Huntsville, arrested April 19 for a visa overstay, is still in federal custody in Louisiana in what his attorney calls an injustice.

“He just wants to go back to his wife and children (in London),” said G.R. Mahmood, a lawyer specializing in international and immigration law, speaking from his Birmingham office Wednesday. “For no fault of his own, he is paying a terrible price.”

Imam Mohammad Razavi was arrested in his office on South Memorial Parkway. Razavi had papers to show he was following the advice of an immigration lawyer in California to obtain a religious worker’s visa. The U.S. immigration office had notified him that his application was being processed without indicating any irregularities.

Mahmood said when immigration officials matched the records and realized Razavi had not entered the U.S. on a type of visa that allows an application for a religious worker’s visa, Razavi should have been warned to leave the country on his own before he was arrested.

“This man doesn’t deserve to be treated like this,” Mahmood said. “He had no intent to violate the law. He did not mislead anyone.”

Attorneys here originally thought Razavi’s stay at the detention facility in Louisiana would be brief, no more than two weeks.

Now it appears that Razavi is at the back of a very long line. Behruz Rahmati, a Huntsville lawyer who has also worked on the case, said officials in Louisiana can give him no time estimate of when Razavi will be taken to the airport.


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