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Scoop Link: Robert Fisk On Ahmed Zaoui


Algerian Under A Death Sentence Fights Deportation

Bt Robert Fisk

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03/15/06 "The Independent" -- -- Ahmed Zaoui, Algerian cleric and university professor, member of the Algerian Front Islamique du Salut (FIS), sits back opposite a cluster of statues of the Virgin, a painting of Christ's crucifixion and three Catholic priests. In St Benedict's Dominican Priory in Auckland, deportation hangs heavily over a man who has been condemned to death in absentia in his own country and merits a clutch of doubtful convictions in Europe, as well as an unpleasant and largely secret document from New Zealand's security services who are trying to over-rule the local refugee authorities' decision that he can remain in the country.

"I am not a cynic - I am an optimist,'' Mr Zaoui says as his New Zealand lawyer, Deborah Manning, produces sheaf after sheaf of documents recording her client's odyssey through Morocco, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and - eventually - New Zealand. "I enjoy being here among these Christian people. I have talked about Islam in the church services. I talk to university students in Auckland. I have spent much time comparing the Koran and the Bible to find those things which they both share.''

Time has certainly been on his hands. In all, Mr Zaoui spent two years in New Zealand prisons - 10 months in solitary - without charge.

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