His release on August 16 from the Kilburn immigration detention facility, where he had been detained since December 13 last year, was met with a collective sigh of relief from members of the Adelaide Cathedral parish.
As reported previously in The Southern Cross, Rafee believed his life would be in danger if he was forced to return to Afghanistan following an unsuccessful request for a ministerial intervention into his application for a visa.
Afghan Catholic's future still uncertain
Of Hazara origin, the former Shiite Muslim was baptised a Catholic in 2017 after completing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program in the Cathedral parish. He said his changed religious beliefs would have placed him in real danger of persecution at the hands of the Taliban and Islamic State.
During his detention, many in the parish wrote to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and MPs expressing their grave fears for Rafee’s safety if he was forced to return to his homeland.
Coordinating the push for Rafee to be able to re-apply for a visa was Br Martyn Paxton who said he was relieved that the Afghan’s detention was finally over.
“We sat and had a glass of tea together today and he spoke of how grateful he was to all those who have supported him with letters to the Minister or other politicians, and to those parishioners who have visited him,” Br Martyn said.
“I am grateful especially to the many Religious brothers and sisters who have been a key element in our campaign and to the stalwarts of the Catholic Women’s League.”
Rafee’s bridging visa is for a period of six months.