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A Jailhouse Interview With A Houston Imam

Democracy Now host Amy Goodman has snagged a phone interview with Imam Zoubir Bouchikhi, a Houston Islamic cleric who has been jailed in a private-detention facility here for four months.

You can read the transcript or listen here.

Bouchikhi was taken by immigration authorities last year; an Algerian native, he's lived in America for 11 years without getting in any trouble with the law and had been working for the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

He's been denied bail as he awaits what might be a key ruling on his status next month. He tells Goodman:

And they are denying me--by the way, they gave me a bond after ninety days. DHS gave me a bond, and they did not honor...They gave me the bond on March the 17th. And just like that, they did not, when a friend of mine, a dear friend of mine, went to pay the bond, which was $20,000--I mean, they are bonding out criminals. I have no criminal history whatsoever. I have never committed even a misdemeanor in my life. And they did not even honor what they have given me.

His troubles obviously started under the Bush administration, but it's safe to say he hasn't perceived any change from Obama:

I am really surprised that this is happening in the Obama administration time, although it started in the Bush administration. Every problem that I'm facing and my family and my community are facing started in the Bush administration, but it is continuing. And we really wanted change, and we were hoping for change, but I don't see it. I don't see it.

His next hearing is scheduled for May 14.

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