Imam Zoubir Bouchikhi: Arrested Shortly Before Deportation

Photo and video by Paula Beltrán
Protests over an imam's treatment
Yesterday Ilyes and Omar Bouchikhi, aged 13 and 11, left school early to attend a protest on behalf of their father, Imam Zoubir Bouchikhi. Bouchikhi, the spiritual leader of a mosque in Southeast Houston who last year was detained for five months, was arrested once again Tuesday evening.

His wife Mounira Belhacel-Bouchikhi told Hair Balls that their attorney, Brian Bates, has been working to reverse her husband's January 24 deportation order before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. She said the family is devastated by his arrest almost two weeks prior to the deadline.

"We have a deportation notice saying he will be deported on the 24th... We've tried to look for our rights but at the end, we're going to accept it. If he's going to be deported, it's fine, he's going to be deported, but unfortunately yesterday they just come and picked him up. He was detained again for no reason, no explanation."

Belhacel-Bouchikhi said the family has been here legally for 13 years. Three of their four kids are U.S. citizens and the family fears being separated.

The Algerian family is supported by Mauri' Saalakhan, president of the Washington, DC-based organization Peace and Justice Foundation.

The Houston Muslim community is also rallying behind the Algerian family's efforts in convincing immigration authorities to release their spiritual teacher until the court of appeals passes judgment on his deportation order. There is a protest planned for tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 126 Northpoint Drive, where he is believed to be detained.

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This absolutely not the American Justice we all know, the man has his appeal in court as we speak, the judge has not ruled in the case, his deportation date is the January 24th, instead of spending the last 2 weeks between his family they put in jail!!!!!

Imam Zoubir is not the spiritual leader for a mosque in Southeast Houston only, he is loved all over Houston where he teach the Islamic values for the young and old men an woman.

Student of Shiekh Zoubir
Student of Shiekh Zoubir

It's a really sad thing.. not only for his family, but for the whole community. if you really think about it, we have no one else but sheikh zoubir who gives us our weekly halaqahs/ classes that reminds us of how to be a good, God- fearing person. He drives all the way from his SE area to teach us...He makes us laugh and he helps us- the youth, with any situations we are in. InshaAllah (God willing) he will NOT get deported! Hopefully, the ICE officials or whoever, will come to their senses and keep him here! they are tearing apart not only our community, but their lovable, wonderful (mashaAllah) family.. who also has a two year old daughter, may I add. And also, this goes against what America is supposed to be standing for- freedom and justice.. it really makes no sense! I don't know how this got past so many people in the ICE building and court or whatever. This shows who these people really are. Sad, sad, sad. We all need to get up and help Sheikh Zoubir. He was always there for us, and now he needs us. Hopefully, InshaAllah.. he'll be there for us and his kids and wife after January 24th as well..

-A Muslim youth in Houston


THe muslim community in the Houston area are terrible. Livnig here for 30 years , I have seen it all.


yes! i wonder why it got past them! he is an innocent man with no criminal record. just a knowledgeable, lovable shiekh.

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