A PALESTINIAN photo-journalist has said it is a "dream come true" as he finally arrived in Scotland after a two year battle to enter the UK after being twice refused for a visa.

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Acclaimed photographer Hamde Abu Rahma reached an agreement with the government after he provided fresh financial details to UK officials and comes in the wake of protests over his treatment.

He was greeted in Edinburgh by supporters waving Palestinian flags - and he admits he initially thought it was a demonstration against him being allowed in.

The Herald:

He is now to embark on a Scottish a tour involving exhibitions of his work with supplementary talks titled Shooting the Occupation.

He admitted on arrival that he thought he would never get to Scotland.

"A dream come true. I finally arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland," he said. "When I first saw the Palestinian flags I thought it was a protest for Palestine then I realise that these people have come to meet me at the train station.

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"Now I've made it and I am so happy to be here.

"Thanks to all the friends who came. Love you all and I love Scotland."

The 28-year-old acclaimed journalist had hoped to be in Britain for a tour between June 1 and 21 to exhibit his work around Scotland and share his experiences in 'occupied Palestine'.

But it emerged that the UK Visas and Immigration decided to refuse his visa application saying 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.

It said they were not satisfied that he would not undertake "prohibited activities" which included taking employment in the UK, studying, accessing medical treatment, or marrying or forming a civil partnership.

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Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard, the SNP spokesperson on the Cabinet Office in the House of Commons who had been "annoyed and outraged" at the decision supported Mr Abu Rahma's original application for a visa which confirmed that the Network of Photographers for Palestine would be covering all his travel and subsistence expenses.

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

He said that the change of heart over the visa came after he faxed further financial details to the authorities, which he said he had already provided.

He felt the key to unlocking the UK door was the "many people stood with me, and people from the government".

He thanked the Herald and MPs such as Mr Sheppard for highlighting his plight.

The Herald:

The first stop of his tour will be Govanhill Baths, Glasgow on Tuesday for a talk before, travelling up to Inverness to speak on the 13th August, before returning to Edinburgh to speak at the Tollcross Community Centre on the 16th.

His exhibition of photographs will also be on show.

Mr Abu Rahma, an outspoken critic of the oppression and brutality he has witnessed in what he describes as occupied 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.

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.

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The journalist took up photography following the death of his cousin, Baseem (below) who was shot dead by what he describes as the Israeli Occupation Force during a peaceful demonstration in his home village of Bil’in, near Ramallah in 2009. Only two years later his other cousin, and Baseem's sister Jawaher, was also killed.

The Herald: