I could not wait to purchase my ticket to Iraqi singer Nour Al-Zain’s scheduled concert in Sydney this weekend. I made a trip to ‘Iraqi’ Fairfield last week and finally purchased the ticket. I had saved up the ticket money over the past few weeks.
With much anticipation to finally see my favourite Iraqi singer live on his first ever tour to Australia, I counted the days and hours — and even had plans to welcome him at the airport.
But two days before Al-Zain’s first concert, the tour organisers announced that the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has delayed granting a visa to Al-Zain.
It comes as no surprise that the Australian government refused to grant a visa to an Iraqi visitor, given the racist politics of this country seen clearly in immigration policies — especially towards refugees. However, it is concerning that even a person as high-profile a person as Al-Zain can be rejected.
It seems the Australian government won’t let Al-Zain in because he does not hold a permanent residency status in a Western country, something that has helped other Iraqi artists tour Australia in the past.
Al-Zain’s songs have been so popular in recent years that they have gathered millions of views on YouTube. One duet featuring Al-Zain (below), inspired by the Iraqi resistance against ISIS, has gathered 232 million views since its upload in 2015.
Such measures by the DIBP show just how racist and arbitrary they can be towards non-white people wanting to cross Australian borders.
A quarter of a century of refugee bashing by concurrent governments channeled into cruel systemic persecution of refugees has justified further xenophobic measures by the Australian government.
We have to reject not just racism against people seeking to come here — even just for concerts — but the racist roots of this country and stand in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples, who continue to be persecuted to this day.
[Dima al-Msodny is a refugee from Iraq and a member of the Socialist Alliance.]