AN OXFORD Muslim leader has had to postpone the UK’s only Islamic music festival because he says acts were not given visas.

Dr Taj Hargey has had to postpone the music festival, which the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford has organised for nearly 10 years, after he said his headline act was unable to get into the UK.

The imam said two other acts have also been unable to get visas, with one saying he was told that officials could not be sure he would return to his home country.

Dr Hargey, imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation, said: “All the performers go back to their homelands after the performances.

“These people don’t want to emigrate here. They just want to give a performance and go back home.

“It is too late now to arrange for another group to come to the festival. This is the first time we have ever had to postpone it.”

The International Oxford Muslim Music Festival was due to take place at the Jacqueline du Pré Building at St Hilda’s College today. Dr Hargey says it is the only Muslim music festival in the UK because other Islamic groups adhere to the prohibition against music.

He said: “We think music is a way of bringing people together.

“We have had no problem getting visas in the past but since the coalition Government came to power the rules have been tightened up.

“It is a very short-sighted and stupid policy. This was a chance to hear some riveting world music as a way of bringing people together.”

The acts which have been prevented from coming to the UK are the headline act Desert Rose, who are a band from South Africa, Hamid Ahmet from Turkey and Muhamed Al Masri from Libya.

Dr Hargey is appealing to British Embassy officials and hopes to organise a rescheduled festival in the new year.

The Home Office was unable to comment last night.