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Conchita withdraws from Edinburgh festival as her band are denied visas

2014 Eurovision Song Contest winner was due to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival tonight. However, Basalt, her three-piece band, have been denied entry into the UK. As a result, Conchita has withdrawn from the concert in a show of solidarity with her friends.

A festival designed to celebrate immigration

The Edinburgh International Festival is designed to celebrate “the importance of immigration in enriching European culture”. Conchita’s band originate from Syria but have lived in Austria for the past two years. Nevertheless, the UK Home Office has denied the trio visas. According to the Edinburgh Evening News, a source close to Conchita said the following:

“This project is about co-operation, about people who start new lives in a new country. If Basalt cannot be there it would feel completely absurd for Conchita to fly without them.”

“This feels awful”

Fergus Linehan, director of the festival, made the following statement:

“The point of this event was its symbolism. This feels awful. This is a very specific project to show the detail of people arriving in our cities, enriching our cultural life and being welcomed here. This is more than just ‘the bass player in the band didn’t get in’. It feels particularly painful because of the symbolism of the concert. We have had to give up for this concert, but we are not going to lie down on this. If it doesn’t come to pass this August, we will invite them to the 2018 festival. We are not going to give up.”

A Home Office official refused to comment on the case:

“We do not routinely comment on individual cases. All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.”

Conchita and her band to record special message

Earlier this afternoon, Conchita herself made posts about the situation on her social media channels. Read what she had to say below.

What do you make of this sad situation? Let us know in the comments below and via our social media pages @ESCXTRA.

Ryan Cobb

My first memory of watching the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 2001 and, over the years, my passion and enthusiasm for the contest has very much turned into an obsession. I adore music and I love geography, so this contest is a natural fit for me. If la la loving Eurovision was a crime, I'd certainly be a criminal!

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