‘I apologise for my country.’ This might of course not be my country; I wasn’t born here and I’m uncertain they will let me stay here, but still. I apologise.
After the debacle over a visa for Ehsan Abdollahi’s appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year, I thought we had this ironed out. Stupid, I know, considering what has been going on domestically in the last year. But I really thought so.
Now it seems that what was done to him, the Home Office are repeating and doing to lots more invited authors and illustrators due to be in Edinburgh very soon. That includes Ehsan again, as well as his colleague at Tiny Owl, Marjan Vafaeian. They are either too rich or too poor, or too much something else, or too little. Or any other excuse.
As the MP for Edinburgh North and Leith says in the Guardian, ‘You have to ask why they think highly acclaimed artists would throw away their careers and leave their family and friends to live as illegal immigrants.’
How can they do this? How dare they?
Even when Britain was a normal and reasonable country, you’d have to ask yourself why the rest of the world would suddenly want to come here and stay forever. As things are now, no one would.
The word international in the Edinburgh International Book Festival does not only cover Americans or Nordic Noir authors, whom I assume are deemed worthy enough to be allowed in. It covers people from all sorts of different countries.
By next year none of them will want to come.