The decision to deny a visit visa to the father of Scottish Refugee Council chief executive Sabir Zazai so that he can see his son receive an honorary doctorate is “shameful and utterly inexplicable”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Mr Zazai is to be awarded the doctorate from the University of Glasgow for his contribution to civil society in the UK over the last two decades.
However, he was told that the Home Office would not grant the visa because it doesn’t believe he would return home to Afghanistan.
Speaking at FMQs on Thursday, SNP MSP Sandra White called the decision “disgraceful” and asked what steps can be taken to allow him to enter the country for the June 11 ceremony.
“For those who know Sabir Zazai, they will know that he has made a significant contribution over 20 years in the UK in supporting refugees in communities,” said Ms Sturgeon.
“Let me take the opportunity today to thank him for the contribution he makes to this country and I am delighted the University of Glasgow has also chosen to recognise that.
“It is entirely natural that he would want to share this outstanding achievement with his father.
“It’s quite hard to comprehend the disappointment that he must feel that his father’s visa has been refused.
“I think that is shameful and utterly inexplicable, and I would call on the UK Government to reflect very carefully on it.”
She said Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP had written to UK Immigration minister (Caroline Nokes MP) to ask her to look into this case.
Labour MP Ged Killen, who raised the issue of Mr Zazai’s case in the House of Commons on Wednesday, tweeted: “The Home Office has got this badly wrong, but under the Tories it is incapable of acting with compassion or acknowledging mistakes.
“I raised Mr Zazai’s case in Parliament yesterday and I will continue to fight to have this nonsensical decision reversed.”
SNP MP Stuart McDonald, tweeted: “All who meet Sabir Zazai know he is a fantastic guy & great CEO for Scottish Refugee Council.
“So happy he is receiving an honorary doctorate from University of Glasgow. Yet EVEN NOW UK Home Office tries to ruin a beautiful moment. Senseless.”
The Home Office has said that it is urgently looking into the case and will be in touch with the applicant in due course