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Support builds for Afgahn threatened with deportation

More than 100 people have signed a petition to stop a promising student and local club cricketer from being deported.

Similar numbers have also joined a facebook group which is calling for Zakir Ali Rostami to stay in the country.

The 21year-old was forced to flee the violence of Afghanistan when he was just 15, after the murder of his father. The Home Office allowed Zakir to stay in the UK until he was 18 but have since rejected his asylum claim, following a review of his application.

Zakir was detained on Thursday, April 9, and sent to the Dover Immigration Centre, and now faces the prospect of being returned to the country where he claims he no longer has any family.

Canterbury MP Julian Brazier has also expressed interest in backing the campaign.

Since arriving in the UK five years ago, Zakir has immersed himself in the community, learning to speak English, excelling at Canterbury College, where he is just three months from completing a national diploma in IT and receiving an unconditional place at the University of East London to study computing.

His sporting talent won him a training scholarship from Canterbury Cricket Club, where he plays.

Now a Keep Zakir in Canterbury campaign has been launched, calling on the Home Office to release Zakir from detention, suspend his deportation, and allow him to continue his studies in the UK.

The online petition has attracted more than 50 signatures in just two days, and a blog has been created to ensure his supporters can track his story.

Speaking from the detention centre in Dover, Zakir told the Gazette:“I cannot imagine a life in Afghanistan. “I have nothing. Everything I have, I have built up here over the past five years.

"All those that are close to me are here in the UK.

“Canterbury accepted me for who I was and what I had to give.

“Playing cricket for a local team made me feel part of the community and was where I met most of my friends.

“I was given a chance here in the UK to rebuild my life, and now that is being taken away from me.”

A statement from Canterbury cricket club said: “This news has come as a surprise to us all. The club was completely unaware of Zakir’s situation.

“Zak is a very popular lad at the club with a tremendous attitude. He has shown great potential as a cricketer so much so that he was awarded a scholarship at the end of last year. We really hope that a resolution can be found.”

Comments from the petition include:

“Have known Zakir since 2005 when he joined Canterbury Cricket Club. He soon proved himself first class in his honesty, integrity and effort and quickly became a valued member of our club.

"He has supported himself and also been a successful student. As a sporting colleague I feel strongly that such a first-class member of society should be allowed to stay in the UK to contribute to our economy and sporting achievements.”

Another reads: “I have found Zakir to be a hard working and conscientious student, and a most polite and agreeable young man. He has demonstrated exemplary effort and commitment to his studies.

"He would be an asset to this country, and should be allowed to complete his studies and remain here as a useful and productive member of society.”

Another supporter adds: “I feel that if Zak has shown his willingness to adapt to UK ways not only academicaly but personaly as well he should be allowed to stay.”

To sign the petition visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/SaveZak/signatures-1.html

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