Festival appearance at risk over visa refusal
Local MP Deidre Brock has urged the UK Government to intervene and allow an acclaimed children’s illustrator from Iran to appear at the Edinburgh Book Festival.
Ehsan Abdollahi, who also works as a lecturer at Tehran University, was booked to appear at children’s events and art workshops during the festival, but has been denied a standard visit visa, despite the costs of the trip being fully funded by his publisher.
Ms Brock said: “The Edinburgh Book Festival is a place where people from around the globe get together and share ideas so it’s worrying and sad that immigration bureaucrats have blocked this visit.
“Ehsan’s beautifully illustrated books give kids the opportunity to read and learn about Persian culture and deal with kindness, hope and compassion. It’s a pity he is being met with such hostility and the children are the ones who are missing out.
“Edinburgh’s international festivals are famous for their warm welcome yet more and more I’m hearing stories of artists and performers facing difficulties getting here to take part. The UK Home Office cannot be allowed to damage that welcome and to hurt our creative industries.
“I have written to the Immigration Minister urging intervention to allow Ehsan to visit, but we need a root-and-branch review of a visa system that is not fit for purpose. We need to encourage talent to Scotland and break down barriers between cultures, not build more. The Edinburgh Festival is the largest arts festival in the world and we can’t have it damaged by petty bureaucracy.”