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AUDIO: Afghan student wins partial victory in fight to stay

Zakir Ali Rostami
Zakir Ali Rostami

A PROMISING Canterbury Cricket player has been bowled over by the support to keep him in the country.

Following a campaign backed by the Kentish Gazette, Zakir Ali Rostami has been granted leave to stay in the UK for a further three months.

The 21 year-old who fled violence in Afghanistan five years ago can now complete his national diploma in IT.

The Home Office had allowed him to stay in the UK until he was 18, but after a review of his application his claim for asylum was turned down.

Audio: Carina Crawford-Rolt speaks of relief at Zakir's release >>>

Zakir had been told that on Tuesday he would be deported, but a last minute reprieve by Minister of State for borders and immigration, Phil Woolas has secured his short term future.

MP Julian Brazier had written to the minister asking for the case to be looked on sympathetically.

Mr Brazier highlighted how well Zakir had 'integrated into the community' and how close he is to completing his qualifications at Canterbury College.

He said: "I am so pleased with the result, it has been a long hard battle.

"For him to be able to complete his studies is brilliant and it will stand him in good stead."

Zakir was freed from Dover Immigration Centre on Tuesday evening after spending 20 days in detention.

The news has come as a massive relief to the student who has won a training scholarship from Canterbury Cricket Club, and also gained an unconditional place at the University of East London for September.

Zakir said: "I am very happy to be home. My first night of freedom was amasing. It isn't common for this type of reprieve to happen.

"Inside I couldn't stop thinking about what could happen to me if I were to be sent back to Afghanistan.

"Staff at the immigration centre were very friendly but there were so many different people in there, from those in similar situations as me to criminals. It was difficult.

"I am so pleased and thankful for the support. It has been hard work and at times frustrating.

"Now I am focusing on my education which I no will be so important to my life.

"We will continue fighting for my right to stay. My life is in the UK now and I have worked hard to get to where I am."

People are still being urged to sign the 400 strong online petition as the fight to keep Zakir in the country indefinately, goes on.

Close friend Carina Crawford-Rolt, 28, has known Zakir for more than a year and started the petition, Facebook group and blog tracking his progress.

She said: "I am over the moon that he has been released.

"The last three weeks have been horrific and a living nightmare but the strength of Zakir has kept me going and campaigning.

"The fact that he has been released shows the more human and compassionate side to the system.

"This is not the end but just the beginning, three months aren't enough and his future is here especially with him due to start university in September.

"We urge everyone to maintain the support and send letters."

To support Zakir visit: www.ipetitions.com/petition/SaveZak/signatures.html

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