Businesswoman wins right to stay in UK

Lancaster's castle and city centre viewed from the top of the town hall clock tower.
Lancaster's castle and city centre viewed from the top of the town hall clock tower.
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An Afghan refugee living in Lancaster has won her right to stay in the country.

Samira Kitman, in her thirties, who was voted Afghan businesswoman of the year fled Kabul after receiving death threats and applied for asylum to the United Kingdom and was located by the Home Office in Lancaster.

Her application was refused, an appeal was lodged then, before the appeal the Home Office reversed its decision: saying that “after reviewing their decision they hadn’t realised the extent of Samira’s profile in Afghanistan and internationally and that due to her profile she would be at risk.”

Samira has been praised by Prince Charles and has had her art displayed at the Victoria and Albert museum in London and the Smithsonian in Washington, according to her Wikipedia page.

A calligrapher and miniaturist, she learned her craft with the Turquoise Mountain Foundation.In 2012 she received support to set up her own business, Muftah-e Honar. (The Key of Art) an arts foundation which trained 80 young,deprived women to become artists and make a living.

She went on to organise a contract worth £175,000 for 6,000 illuminated Quranic verses to decorate the brand new 5 Star Anjum hotel in Mecca which is used by wealthy pilgrims.

She employed 15 women calligraphers. She and her artists had 11 weeks to complete the intricate ink lettering with swirls of green and gold watercolour.

Samira has since gone on to complete bespoke commissions for private clients, exhibitions, and public buildings around the world.

Samira Kitman won 2015 “Best Woman Entrepreneur” award during a celebration for International Women’s Day at the Women’s Center of the American University of Afghanistan.

She was chosen out of 307 female competitors across Afghanistan for her unique artistic skills and for using international markets to grow her calligraphy business.

In 2016 she featured in We Are Afghan Women, a book by the former American first lady Laura Bush.

All of these activities combined to make her an enemy of the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group who object to women playing a public role in society.

She said she was forced to leave Kabul after a taxi driver attempted to abduct her, and after receiving a string of death threats.

Samira is looking forward to living an independent life in Lancaster and hopes to continue with her art