A PETITION calling for Asif Farooqui’s immediate release has been set up at the Al Rahman Mosque, in Randal Street, Daubhill, where he is a member.

And a sign at the mosque entrance urges his fellow worshippers to pledge their support.

The message, written on a blackboard inside the mosque, said Mr Farooqui was “highly respected” and called on the authorities to release him “without delay”.

Mr Farooqui is a pillar of the community who is respected by his peers, shocked neighbours said yesterday.

As officers arrived on the scene after the early morning raid, some clad in white forensic jackets, residents spoke of their disbelief at discovering that one of their neighbours had been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Some told how they woke in the early hours, and saw police at the front and back of the modern mid-terrace house in Willows Lane, Deane.

Others only discovered what had happened when they woke later in the morning.

All said they were shocked that such a popular member of the community had been arrested as part of the counter terrorism raids.

The rest of Mr Farooqui’s family left the house, where they have lived for about 10 years, early yesterday morning, of their own accord.

Yasmin Wazir, aged 23, lives opposite the family. She said: “They are just a normal family, very quiet.

“The first I knew about it was when I got up. I was going to drop my mum off and saw all the police outside.

“They are a very respectable family.”

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “There were a lot of officers. Fortunately they didn’t knock the door down or anything.

“I woke at 4.30am. I heard the banging. I just looked out the window and found this was going on. I hope they have got it wrong.

“He is a family man. He is a really nice, quiet guy.”

Mr Farooqui regularly attends the mosque in nearby Randal Street. Another neighbour said: “If I’d gone to the mosque and told people he was my neighbour, people would say you are lucky to have such a nice neighbour.

“He is very well respected in the community and all over.

“It is a very, very good family. I can’t believe this has happened.”

Police remained outside the house for the rest of the day, as forensic officers and members of the Tactical Aid Unit searched inside.

lucy.ewing@ theboltonnews.co.uk