Last week I was in Glasgow, waiting for Algerian poet Habib Tengour as we were supposed to do a joint poetry reading and a shared presentation of our anthology of North African Literature at the University of Glasgow. Tengour never made it because he never received his visa for the UK, & his passport was returned to him too late for a planned trip to Algeria for a conference. And now Canada is refusing a visa to Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan, shortlisted for the Griffin Prize. Below, Arabic Literature (in Translation)’s take on another senseless act of governmental repression. (This has happened before to Zaqtan in this country; see my posts here, here & here). It feels like in the Euro-American sphere anyone with an Arab name is presumed guilty & can be treated like a non-person.
Here We Go Again: Canada Denies Ghassan Zaqtan Visa to Attend Griffin Prize Ceremony
BY MLYNXQUALEY ON • ( 0 )
Presumably Canada — like its southerly neighbor — will come around on the issue of a visa for Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan, who along with translator Fady Joudah is on the shortlist for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize:
The Griffin Trust is working through appropriate Canadian government channels in the hope we can welcome poet Ghassan Zaqtan to the Griffin Poetry Prize awards festivities in mid June. Thank you to everyone for their expressions of support.
This is particularly galling as the same thing happened to Zaqtan in April of last year, in the US, when Zaqtan was meant to travel around on a multi-city book tour with translator Fady Joudah. Although many protested the visa denial, Zaqtan was unable to make the spring tour, and another one had to be set up in the fall — and yes, that one actually happened.
However, Canada Visa People: I don’t think they can run another Griffin Prize ceremony for you in the fall.
Fady Joudah’s Facebook message said:
“Please share and mobilize: Ghassan Zaqtan, the great Palestinian poet, finalist for the prestigious International Griffin Prize for poetry, has been denied visa to enter Canada to attend the ceremonies in two weeks. The reasons for rejection are: 1-Prize provides insufficient grounds for a visa 2- Uncertainty about his financial independence 3- Uncertainty about his true desire to return to his home. Conditions to consider a new application: 1- proof of financial capacity, explanation of prize money 2- Proof that he had been granted visa before in certain countries (the online application system is not apparently efficient enough to recognize this from his passport info).”