UNIVERSITY OF Glasgow principal Professor Anton Muscatelli said he is both “concerned and appalled” after one of his veterinary students was banned from flying back to Scotland after being caught up in President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

Dr Hamaseh Tayari, who specialises in veterinary anaesthesia the university, was blocked from flying from Costa Rica back to Glasgow via New York on Saturday as she travels on an Iranian passport. Her family moved after the Iranian Revolution when she was two and she grew up in Italy before coming to Scotland.

Her boyfriend Alessio Citi who also lives in Glasgow has compared the flight ban that left them trapped at the airport to “fascism” and “racism” and said: “It feels like a movie. But it’s reality.”


Credit: Alessio Citi

And Prof Muscatelli, who was also brought up in Italy said he had been “concerned for the safety and well being of a young woman who, through no fault of her own, was stranded in Central America”.

He said he was “appalled because the reason for her predicament was not because she had done something wrong, not because she was a danger to the security of the United States, but simply because she holds an Iranian passport.”

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Dr Tayari and her boyfriend became stranded at San Jose airport in Costa Rica in the wake of Donald Trump’s executive order to close America’s borders to refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries has been swiftly enforced.

The couple, who had celebrated Dr Tayari’s birthday on Thursday during a fortnight break, were due to fly to Madrid at around 11pm last night after being stranded for nearly a day-and-a-half before finally arriving in Glasgow late on Monday night having spent £2,600 on flights.


A fund-raising campaign launched by Women for Independence on Saturday evening, had raised over £6000 in 18 hours before being closed yesterday. The group said £2,600 would go to Dr Tayari while additional funds will be passed on to the Scottish Refugee Council.

Prof Muscatelli said said he had been “impressed” by the “huge outpouring” of backing for Dr Tayari, and said university colleagues have made it clear they will do all they can to support her when she is back in Scotland.

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He added: “Just as important is to let Hamaseh and the wider world know that our university maintains and cherishes values that we will not compromise upon.

“The free movement of people, of ideas, of intellect is surely the very hallmark of civilized society. It is in the University of Glasgow’s DNA, and always has been.”

HeraldScotland: Glasgow University Principal Anton Muscatelli photographed at Glasgow University. Picture: Kirsty Anderson

He pointed out that in the 19th century and against a backdrop of prejudice and hate, the University of Glasgow welcomed African-Americans as students.

The university educated the first black doctor, James McCune Smith who had been born a slave in New York in 1813.

Prof Muscatelli pointed out that McCune Smith later returned to the United States going on to become a successful physician and one of America’s foremost abolitionists and educators.

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More recently the university made scholarships available to refugees fleeing from the war in Syria.

Prof Muscatelli added: “In the 20th century those persecuted or discriminated against because of their religion and race were welcomed at the University of Glasgow for the ideas and talent they brought. The contributions they made, collective and individual, have been of immense benefit to the advancement of knowledge and betterment of society.


Credit: Hamaseh Tayari

“Having spoken with Hamaseh I have been hugely impressed at how she is coping with the nightmare situation in which she finds herself.

“But I have been impressed too by the huge outpouring of support that has been shown ... particularly on Twitter and through direct emails that have come in to the University from people who are outraged and want to help."

He said he looked forward to welcoming Hamaseh back to campus.

The university said that while it provides advice and guidance to staff and students if they find themselves in difficulties when overseas, they will be reviewing this in the light of this weekend’s events.

Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop last night wrote to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to express her ‘deep concern’ about the case.

Read more: Britain wins reprieve amid Donald Trump's Muslim ban chaos

“I think it also confirms what we all like to believe is true. In this country we value individuals for what they are and the worth they bring, not for the stamp on their passport, the colour of their skin or the religion they practice.”

Ms Tayari, who has been studying towards her European Diploma in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia at the University of Glasgow’s Small Animal Hospital described the fund-raising effort as “amazing”.

She said: "I still have Iranian nationality, because I've never thought about changing it.


"I've never had any problems until now, maybe I've had to wait a bit longer for visas, but nothing like this has happened to me.

"In my passport I have a regular transit visa for the USA, but they told me the visa is not any more valid."

Her boyfriend said that they were stuck in San Jose airport due to "racism".

"Just ten days ago they made us pass and now don't allow us to go home with the visa approved... stuff from fascism. It's gross," he said.

"Luckily Costa Ricans are wonderful."

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "The Scottish government is closely monitoring the situation and we have made contact with the UK government to raise the case.

"We stand ready to offer whatever assistance we can to Ms Tayari or her family at this difficult time."

Hamaseh graduated with honours from the University of Pisa (Italy), Faculty of Veterinary Science in 2012.

After graduation, she received a grant for a research project in veterinary ultrasound locoregional anaesthesia at the University of Pisa and in April 2016 she was awarded her PhD.

During her PhD, she completed a one-year veterinary anaesthesia training program at Tierspital at the University of Bern (Switzerland).

Hamaseh joined the University of Glasgow as a resident in Veterinary Anaesthesia in November 2015 and is studying towards her European Diploma in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia.