More than 41,000 people have signed a petition calling for an acclaimed Syrian musician to be allowed to perform at a British music festival after the Home Office rejected his request for a five-day visa.
Ibrahim Keivo, a Syrian refugee who was granted asylum in Germany more than two years ago, was due to sing and play the oud – a traditional Middle Eastern stringed instrument – at the Oxford Chamber Music Festival on September 27.
He was also scheduled to participate in an educational programme for children and young people.
A change.org petition calling for the Home Office’s decision to be reversed has garnered widespread support, including from famous faces such as Queen guitarist Brian May.
Give Syrian refugee Ibrahim Keivo a visa to perform at our music festival – Sign the Petition! https://t.co/P4f9qPSdK5 via UKChange Bri— Dr. Brian May (DrBrianMay) September 17, 2017Give Syrian refugee Ibrahim Keivo a visa to perform at our music festival – Sign the Petition! https://t.co/GgjrAICNly via UKChange— Philip Pullman (PhilipPullman) September 19, 2017Surprising to hear Home Office has argued a famous Oud player lacks skills (!) to attend Oxchambermusic fest:https://t.co/iAzeAVtZ4x ocmf— Anneliese Dodds (AnnelieseDodds) September 15, 2017Priya Mitchell, artistic director of the Oxford Chamber Music Festival and creator of the online petition, said all of the requirements demanded by the Home Office had been fulfilled.
“Everybody connected with the festival is shocked by the Home Office’s decision to decline his visa,” she wrote in the petition, which is calling for 50,000 signatures.
“Being forced to leave his home and losing everything was hard enough. To be refused the opportunity to share his art with us all is simply cruel,” she added.