Members of Austin’s religious community are rallying around a Muslim cleric who is being detained in West Texas and may be deported to Pakistan.

Imam Safdar Razi, who led a Northwest Austin mosque for six years before taking a job in Dearborn, Mich., in 2006, was arrested on immigration charges at his home in Plano on Wednesday, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

Agency officials offered no further explanation for his detention.

Razi has been held at a detention facility in Haskell, about 60 miles north of Abilene, according to Razi’s lawyer, Karen Pennington.

Razi returned to Texas this year to address problems with his religious worker visa. He had applied for a change of status that would allow him to remain in the U.S. That application was recently denied.

Pennington then filed an application for political asylum to keep the immigration officials from sending Razi back to Pakistan, where, she said, Razi could be a target of anti-Shiite extremist groups.

Mohsin Lari, founder of the Austin nonprofit community group Muslim Community Support Services, said he is working on keeping Razi in the United States, but he disagreed with Pennington’s characterization of the dangers that Razi would face if deported to Pakistan.


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