The Crescent Report

December 18, 2007

Pittsburgh Imam Detained by Immigration Officials

Filed under: Muslim Americans — Tags: , , — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 11:50 am

MAS Freedom (MASF), as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), has learned of the December 4, 2007, detainment of Imam Kadir Gunduz, 48, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE). Executive Director, Mahdi Bray, offering the services of MAS Freedom’s Legal Fund, will attend Wednesday’s 1:00 PM bail hearing in York, Pennsylvania. On September 19, 2000, the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh (ICP), filed an “I-360” special immigration petition on the behalf of Imam Gunduz, who is originally from Turkey. The petition was approved on February 1, 2002. Subsequently, Imam Gunduz filed the appropriate I-485 application for adjustment of status, which was filed in April 2002.

On June 8, 2007, Imam Gunduz filed in the U.S District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania a Writ of Mandamus action against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS conducted a compliance review, onsite visit to ICP on August 23, 2007. On November 2, 2007 USCIS issued a revocation of the I-360 petition and the denial of the I-485 application. Imam Kadir filed appeals to the revocation and the denial. He is currently detained preparatory to removal proceedings after being charged as an individual who failed to maintain non-immigrant status.

Imam Gunduz is married and has three children, all US citizens. He has served the ICP as a religious leader for many years. The Muslim religious term “Imam” (pronounced EE-MAM) means “leader” in Arabic. During his time with the ICP, Imam Gunduz has been active in chaplaincy work in many correctional institutions in and around the Pittsburgh area, including Federal Correctional Institution in Morgantown, West Virginia, State Correctional Institution in Fayette, Pennsylvania, and Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio. He has also been very active in interfaith dialogue within the Pittsburgh Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities, in conjunction with the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, Gibson of Temple Sinai, Pittsburgh, the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Many can attest to the dedication, moderate views, commitment towards dialogue and promotion of the peaceful message of Islam manifested through Imam’s Gunduz’s actions and words through the years. ICP officials have stated that Imam Gunduz has been an outstanding community leader who has striven to uphold the law and conduct himself in the most exemplary manner befitting a Muslim in his service as their Imam, and they are committed to unwavering support to Imam Gunduz and his family. The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh is the area’s largest mosque, providing services to Muslim and Non-Muslim communities in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, and Northern West Virginia. “This case is very similar to the Imam Foad Farahi case in Florida. It appears that there is a unfortunate pattern in immigration that seems to target imams and Muslim activists. As in the Farahi case, we at MAS Freedom plan to use our Legal Fund and associated attorneys to provide Imam Gunduz with the best legal representation and protection of his rights. MAS Freedom and the greater community of Pittsburg will continue to stand behind Imam Gunduz,” stated Bray. In this season of joyous occasions MAS Freedom and the ICP Muslim community ask believers of all Faiths, and all compassionate Americans, to extend their support and prayers to Imam Gunduz and his family in their difficulty. You can also help by signing an online petition in support of Imam Gunduz at Petition Online: http://www.petitiononline.com/kadir/petition.html. It only takes seconds to fill out.

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