A PALESTINIAN photo-journalist planning a tour of Scotland to show his work has been refused a visa to enter the UK for the second time in a year, because the authorities believe he might carry out 'prohibited activities' including getting married.

UK Visas and Immigration has refused 28-year-old acclaimed photographer Hamde Abu Rahma his application to come into Britain for a tour between June 1 and 21 to exhibit his work around Scotland and share his experiences in occupied Palestine.

An online campaign to protest the decision has been started saying there is no valid reason for refusal.

The Herald:

Campaigners raising money to allow the trip said the journalist vowed to used his camera as his weapon after two cousins were murdered by what they describe as Israeli Occupation Forces.

Mr Abu Rahma, an outspoken critic of the oppression and brutality he has witnessed in Palestinian territories was due to feature photos in his talks associated with his book Roots Run Deep which reveal what life is like in his homeland.

The Herald:

Last year, the photographer was refused entry to take part in an Edinburgh Festival Fringe event saying he had no proof of income or bank statements, despite having proved the Fringe was financially sponsoring him and paying for his accommodation.

His latest visa application was supported by his host Phil Chetwynd, of the Network of Photographers for Palestine and treasurer of the cross party group on Palestine in the Scottish Parliament.

Read more: Palestinian refugees land slot at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In the application supported among others by Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard, the SNP spokesperson on the Cabinet Office in the House of Commons it was confirmed that the NOPFP would be covering all his travel and subsistence expenses.

The Herald:

NOPFP raised over £2500 through two online crowdfunding appeals for the visit to pay for his travel, accommodation, living expenses and his visa application.

But in rejecting his application the UK Visas and Immigration said there was no proof of funding and that therefore they were not satisfied he was a genuine visitor and that he would not leave at the end of the proposed visit.

Read more: Palestinians in all walks of life who are playing their part in Israel are not second-class citizens

"I am therefore not satisfied that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your proposed visit or that you will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits," said his letter of rejection.

The Herald:

"Furthermore, I am not satisfied that you are genuinely seeking entry for a purpose that is permitted by the visitor routes and that you will not undertake any prohibited activities..."

Those activities included taking employment in the UK, studying, accessing medical treatment, or marrying or forming a civil partnership.

The Herald:

It has already been anounced that he would attend the Solas Festival in Perth in mid-June, as part of its Beyond Borders strand,  to talk about his work as a photo-journalist on the front line. His photos – and his story – will now be presented by Mr Chetwynd.

He was also due to address meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The journalist took up photography following the death of his cousin, Baseem who was shot dead by during what he says was a peaceful demonstration in his home village of Bil’in, near Ramallah in 2009.

The Herald:

Only two years later his other cousin, and Baseem's sister Jawaher, was also killed.

Mr Abu Rahma said he was "deeply sorry" about the visa refusal, which comes a year after a similar rejection.

"I am sorry because I know a lot of people put their time and effort to organise my tour in Scotland and the UK," said Mr Abu Rahma, who points out he is already widely travelled showing his work at exhibitions around the world.

He said the reasons for refusing were "full of lies and untrue".

The Herald:

"I don't understand it. Does it mean that being a Palestinian journalist defending Palestinian rights is a terror activity," he said. "I hope one day Scotland will be an independent state and I can come."

Audrey Scotia Walker, who has launched a petition in protesting the authorities' decision said it was unfair saying that Mr Abu Rahma has enver shown hatred to anyone even though he has been harassed, attacked and had death threats from just doing his job.

"The UK London government in Westminster has no valid reason for refusing him a visitor's visa to exhibit his work," she said. "He has support of friends and Scottish MPs, and funding, and there's no risk he will not return as he has never broken these rules before and he has an elderly mother who he must go back to. Any reasons they have given for withholding a visa are just excuses.

The Herald:

"The real reason is because he is a Palestinian and they don't want him exposing the crimes of the occupation.

"This is not fair. Hamde has done nothing wrong and they are preventing him from travelling to Scotland."

Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said he had previously experience difficulties in organising visits to the UK by Palestinians. "It is always part of the calculation that they may not be allowed out," he said. "Not only does it make each visit more expensive than it needs to be, because you can't buy the air tickets in advance, it create an air of uncertainty."

It is not the first time that Palestinian artistes have encountered difficulties gaining entry to Britain.

Gaza-based husband and wife writers, Ali Abukhattab and Samah al-Sheikh were refused visas three years ago to travel to the UK and speak at the the second Shubbak festival celebrating contemporary Arab art.

In April 2012, a tour by Palestinian Oud player Ahmad Al-Khatib and other musicians was delayed because of visa issues raised by the UK Border Agency.