Indian Catholics welcome Haneef release, call for apology

Bangalore priest Fr Faustine Lobo has welcomed the release of Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef - detained for nearly a month under Australia's anti-terror laws - as a "victory of human rights" but said that false pride has prevented authorities from apologising over the affair.

UCA News reports that the 27-year-old physician from Bangalore, southern India, returned home on 29 July after being arrested in Brisbane and detained 25 days.

The release came after Australian courts and the government cleared him of having links with terrorists who attacked the Glasgow airport in Britain on 30 June.

Haneef's return home "is a moment of joy, a victory of human rights and justice," said Fr Faustine Lobo, director of Catholic pastoral ministries in Karnataka state.

Fr Lobo said that when Haneef was detained on suspicion of having terrorist links, people began looking upon the Muslim community in India as a "danger group" and India as a terrorist country.

He lauded Australian police for "the speedy investigation and verdict," but added that "false pride" blocked Australian authorities from "apologising for their mistakes."

Soon after Haneef's release, the Australian government admitted that he was arrested on wrong information given to them by British police. They also said such mistakes are possible in cases connected with terrorism.

Haneef is a second cousin of brothers Kafeel Ahmed and Sabeel Ahmed, who are linked to the Glasgow attack. He was arrested after police reportedly recovered his cell phone SIM card from the Glasgow attack scene.

"The truth has come out. I have been saying that my husband is innocent, and that has been proven right," Haneef's wife, Firdous Arshiya, told media in Bangalore as she held their month-old baby.

Fr Lobo said Australians need to apologise "unconditionally" not only to Haneef's family, but also to the "Muslim community and the entire country."

Meanwhile, in Australia, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, a Catholic, said that newly released extracts from an online chat between Mr Haneef and his brother justified the Minister's suspicions.

Church People Welcome Indian Muslim Being Cleared Of Terrorist Suspicions (UCA News, 31/7/07)
Brother's web alert: they know nothing about you (Sydney Morning Herald, 1/8/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Mohammed Haneef (Wikipedia)

Life no bed of roses: Haneef lawyer (CathNews, 30/7/07)
Distinguish Muslim friends from enemies, says Pell (CathNews, 5/3/07)
Pell says Catholics should read the Koran (CathNews, 4/5/06)

1 Aug 2007