Message from the Oxford Chamber Music Festival:
Ibrahim Keivo, a highly regarded Syrian musician, has been refused a 5 day visa to perform at the international Oxford Chamber Music Festival.
Priya Mitchell, the Artistic Director, knows Ibrahim well and cannot comprehend what possible threat he might pose to security by coming to play in Oxford for a few days. Ibrahim has been granted asylum in Germany, where he works and lives with his family. He has impeccable references and is invited by the world famous musician Jordi Savall to tour Europe in 207-2018.
The Home Office has given no reason for its refusal to grant the visa. Ibrahim Keivo was scheduled to sing and play his stringed instrument, the oud in concert but is also going to to be part of an educational programme for children and young people in Oxford. Oxford Chamber Music Festival and Ibrahim Keivo thought they had satisfied all the requirements demanded by the Home Office in detail and with plenty of time to spare, a most painstaking and expensive procedure. So we were completely devastated by the Home Office’s decision to decline his visa.
It is particularly regrettable as the Oxford Chamber Music Festival has a long tradition of inviting international artists from many different parts of the world and has never until now had to cancel an invitation on the grounds that a musician is not welcome in the U.K. We fear that this is perhaps a foretaste of how hard it is going to be for artists to enter the UK once Brexit is completed. Even taking into account the threat of terrorism and the weight of responsibility carried by the Home Office, its decisions should not automatically exclude certain nationalities from short term contracts, especially in the field of art and entertainment. We see music as a universal language, without borders that brings people of all cultures, religion, color of skin, heritage or background closer together and we still hope that Ibrahim Keivo will be granted a visa in time and will feel as welcomed in our country as he should be.