"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Muslim Poets Banned from Britain

The UK Border Agency strikes again:

SEVERAL internationally-renowned poets were denied UK entry to perform at this year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival after falling victim to harsh new Home Office rules.

An Indonesian and two Moroccan poets were forced to pull-out of performances at the last minute after being refused visas.

Festival director Chloe Garner said: “I’m devastated, this is hugely embarrassing for the festival. These new regulations make it almost impossible to for us to programme international poets. I feel ashamed that the UK is effectively becoming a fortress.”

Dorothea Rosa Herliany, described as one of the most important poets writing in Indonesia today, was turned down over concerns she was not a “genuine visitor”, that she did not intend to leave the UK at the end of her visit, that she may intend to “take employment or produce goods or provide services”.

Festival organisers eventually managed to have the decision overturned. However, she had been due to perform the day before the decision was made.

Moroccan poets Hassan Najmi and Widad Benmoussa were to appear in the Moroccan Poetry and Food event. Mr Najmi, who is director general of the book and publications department of Morocco’s Ministry of Culture, was made to attend a face-to-face interview, scheduled the day before his appearance. Widad Benmoussa arrived with the relevant documents. She was told she needed further documentation and a new interview date was set. This was after her scheduled appearance.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, it is good to have rigorous border controls, and multicultural nonsense such as this isn't particularly important - as I think the ramblings of the organiser demonstrates (if our actual fortresses had operated anything like our modern border controls, there would be no such thing as Britain).

If the border guards suspect someone will not return home, then they are right to keep them out.

On the other hand, it is hard to read a story like this and not wonder. We know that criminals, including murderers and rapists, are regularly allowed into this country.

So do the authorities crack down on soft targets simply to appear tough? We also know that figures and appearances matter far more to this government than reality, so it must surely be a possibility.

1 comment:

Edwin Greenwood said...

"So do the authorities crack down on soft targets simply to appear tough?"

I'm sure they do. Low-hanging fruit. Quick win. Bumps up the stats. Bit of positive publicity and "successes" to point to when criticized for inaction on immigration matters. Equally something to point to and say "Ve are only following ze rules" when criticized for doing something ridiculous.

Whether such actions represent a deliberate and cynical policy or simply the line of least resistance is another matter. I try to avoid falling in with conspiracy theories -- therein lies madness -- but I do sometimes find myself wondering whether cases like this or the more everyday example of picking on some well-liked "refugee" widow and her adorable well-assimilated kids for deportation is a deliberate policy, allowing TPTB to turn round and say, "Look, you Daily Mail-reading racist scum, you kept badgering us to tighten up on immigration and asylum-seeking. Well, we've done what you asked and this is the result. Aren't you ashamed of yourselves?"