A group of prominent South Africans has written to UK Home Secretary Theresa May following the deportation of an author and the refusal of a visa for an academic.
South African-born writer Ishtiyaq Shukri, whose novel The Silent Minaret won the EU Literary Award in 2004, was detained at Heathrow Airport and then deported while trying to visit his wife at their UK home in London.
Academic Na’eem Jeenah, executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre, was rejected when he applied for a visa to take up an invitation to attend a European Council on Foreign Relations conference.
Now the Concerned Africans Forum (CAF) has contacted Mrs May to complain about “the treatment meted out to our citizens”. The group, whose membership includes diplomats, former South African government ministers and academics, is concerned that the men were not allowed into the UK because they are both Muslims.
Mr Shukri, who had previously been a permanent UK resident for 18 years, also had his permanent residency status revoked. His publisher said the UK authorities said he was deported because he had not visited the UK since 2012. The publisher said Mr Shukri was also questioned about visits to Yemen, where his wife worked as the country’s director for the UK charity Oxfam.
Meanwhile, Mr Jeenah waited for six months after applying for a UK visa, only to be told his application had been rejected on the grounds of national security.
CAF member, Garh le Pere, said the decisions were setting an “unacceptable precedent”.
He said: “Our petition challenges the reasons given for denying him [Jeenah] a visa. Jeenah was going to the UK for academic reasons even though he has been there before.
“We want the UK to revoke its decision because this might affect Jeenah’s future travel to other countries, like Australia, where he has a family.”