Home Office stopped author from speaking at UK festival

Date: 
August, 2018
Country: 
United Kingdom (England)

The publisher of a Palestinian author denied a visa to appear at the Edinburgh book festival this year says the Home Office has effectively stopped her from speaking, despite reversing its decision.

Nayrouz Qarmout, who is also a TV journalist, was one of a dozen Middle Eastern and African writers and illustrators who had their applications for visitor visas refused, sometimes multiple times, ahead of this year’s festival, which began on Saturday.

With all but three having received their visas, on Sunday Qarmout was granted hers in a last-minute reprieve after applying three times since April.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have decided to issue a visa to Mrs Qarmout on the basis of new information that has been provided. We are working with her to ensure she receives her visa and travel documents as quickly as possible.”

However, it is unlikely Qarmout will make it in time for her scheduled appearance on Wednesday, when she was due to speak at a sold-out eventabout her book, The Sea Cloak and Other Stories.

As a Gaza resident, she also requires approval from Jordan to fly from Amman to the UK, as well as an exit permit from Israel to pass through the Erez Crossing on the border. She has been advised that it will take four to five days for her passport to arrive in Gaza.

The festival’s director, Nick Barley, said a new event would be planned for 23 August in her honour. “If she can attend, it will be a celebration of freedom of speech,” he said. “If not, we’ll bring attention to her case.”

Source: The Guardian