A respected Muslim imam and religious teacher is facing removal from the country after a judge ruled that the Home Office was under no obligation to 'safeguard and promote the interests' of his pupils.
Since Sher Afzal's arrival in Britain in 2006, he has become a pillar of the Islamic community, performing a central 'holy role' at the Reading Islamic Centre.
Children he teaches at the centre and their parents signed a petition in his support in an attempt to convince Home Secretary, Teresa May, to let him stay. However, his permit to enter the country as a 'religious worker' expired some years ago and, despite numerous attempts to convince the Home Office that the benefits he brings to society should make him a special case, he has consistently been refused permission to remain.
At the High Court, his lawyers argued that the Home Office's decision was unlawful and ignored its duty to 'safeguard and promote the interests' of the children taught by Mr Afzal.
Mr Justice Wyn Williams agreed that the Home Office had not taken into account the children's interests. However, 'with considerable hesitation', he said that there had been no obligation to do so and dismissed Mr Afzal's judicial review challenge.
The judge was of the view that, in reality, Mr Afzal’s removal would leave his pupils in no different position to many thousands of children up and down the country who experience a change of teacher part way through their education.