Mohammad Qatanani, the imam of the mosque at the Islamic Center of Passic County, has been barred by federal immigration authorities from renewing his driver’s license, and faces deportation because of detention in Israel decades ago and questions about whether or not he lied on his 1999 application for permanent residency, which he has denied. Qatanani has served as a spiritual and community leader for a dozen years for the Muslim community in Passic County, speaking at funerals, visiting the sick in hospitals, and opening his home to domestic-violence victims at a moment’s notice. Qatanani is receiving support from his community, including fund-raisers for him at the mosque. His case has galvanized a diverse group of community figures, across different faiths including Christian and Jewish leaders, who fear they may lose a leader they see as the model of Muslim moderation. Imam Qatanani’s lawyer, Claudia Slovinsky, said that immigration officials are accusing him of lying on his residency application, that he made no mention of time he spent in detention in Israel hear the end of the first intifada in 1993, when Palestinians are routinely held by Israelis for questioning. Slovinsky said the imam never received word of any charges or convictions against him, and thus was not lying on the immigration form.

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