A FRINGE event focusing in on Palestine is set to go ahead despite one of its stars – a globally known photographer – being denied entry to the UK.
Photojournalist Hamde Abu Rahma had been due to take part in Welcome to the Fringe, a string of new events founded by top playwright David Greig.
Mr Abu Rahma, an activist and author of Roots Run Deep, a book compiling a collection of photos entitled Life in Occupied Palestine, was denied entry to the UK.
UK Visas and Immigration turned the photographer down, saying he had no proof of income or bank statements, despite having proved the Fringe was financially sponsoring him and paying for his accommodation.
He said: “After more than three months of organising and planning for my trip to the UK on a speaking tour of England and Scotland to participate in this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, my application for a visa has been refused.
“The festival invited me to show my photographs which represent the non-violent resistance and my talk about Palestinian life to the British audience.
The visa application process for Palestinians is incredibly obscure and very difficult to find your way throughPhil Chetwynd
“The UK government refused to give me a visa and the reason for refusal was that I didn’t show any bank statements or documentation to demonstrate my ability to support myself during my visit.”
Mr Abu Rahma, from Bil’in near Ramallah, has missed out on participating in the Welcome to the Fringe: Palestine events at the Forest Fringe venue on August 23.
He said it was the first time he has been refused an entry visa to any country.
He was due to promote his work and travel across the country after the exhibition.
Welcome to the Fringe was inspired by controversy over an Israeli show at the Underbelly venue in the city last year.
A fundraising campaign set up by Mr Greig raised £10,000 to bring a dozen artists from Palestine to perform at the Fringe.
The Network of Photographers for Palestine had helped raise money through crowdfunding to finance Mr Abu Rahma’s visit earlier this year.
He said: “Despite sending complete evidence of the sponsorship provided to fund my trip, and all contact details of my sponsors proving that all my travel and accommodation costs have been met, they still refused my application.
“I have travelled extensively to tell the Palestinian story through my photographs but the UK is the first country that has refused me entry for a ridiculous and unfounded reason.”
The refusal letter states Mr Abu Rahma did not provide enough financial information or evidence that he would leave the UK after the festival.
It said: “You have not shown that you are meeting your daily living costs and other financial obligations.
“I’m not satisfied that you are a genuine visitor. I consider that you do not have strong enough economic or social ties to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to satisfy me that you intend to leave the UK.”