IT is the Burns Supper that attracts Japanese dignitaries and Algerian politicians.

This year the community organisation behind a Bard bash celebrating the master poets of Scotland and Afghanistan is to welcome attendees from around the globe as it moves online.

The glittering event by Glasgow Afghan United – which works to strengthen cultural and community ties – celebrates both Ayrshire’s Robert Burns and Persian poet Rumi, whose writing has been celebrated since the 13th century.

Politicians from both countries regularly attend the annual dinner, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the chair of the High Council for National Reconciliation, both set to give the opening remarks tomorrow night.

Also set to feature music by Frankfurt-based Afghan singer Sediq Shaban, the event is amongst many this year to go virtual in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That shift means many more will now take part, with attendees expected to log in from Jamaica, Germany and other nations to see comic Karen Dunbar deliver Tam O’Shanter and Glasgow provost Philip Braat do the Immortal Memory.

Dignitaries from the Japanese consulate, the Algerian parliament and the Royal Navy will be amongst those logging in, as will representatives of Scotland’s Sudanese, Iraqi and Chinese communities.

MPs, MSPs, councillors and members of Police Scotland are also set to attend, with Sabir Zazai, the Afghan head of the Scottish Refugee Council, and Unesco chair in refugee integration Alison Phipps, of Glasgow University, also on the guest list.

All are urged to enjoy a traditional feast “or whatever you fancy cooking up”.

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The event is the work of Glasgow Afghan United director Abdul Bostani, who said: “Even though we cannot gather together in one place this year, that should not stop us enjoying our food and raising a glass of whatever we enjoy to toast our haggis to Rabbie and Rumi.”

While Burns Suppers are traditionally formal, those attending via their laptops and tablets will be spared black tie attire.

However, Bostani says the event may be “a rare opporchancity to dress up for the evening” after months stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While Burns was born in 1759, Rumi came 550 years earlier.

Also known as Mawlana, he is considered the greatest Sufi mystic and poet in the Persian language thanks to works like the epic Spiritual Couplets, which became influential throughout the Muslim world.

Refugee-led Glasgow Afghan United was founded in 2004 and uses culture and sport to promote social integration and overcome barriers – work that has won it several honours.

While much of the UK’s Afghan population is centred in England, the Scottish Afghan community has grown in recent years as people relocate through a number of UK Government schemes, including one for interpreters who worked with British forces in Afghanistan.

That scheme was extended late last year after some of those ruled ineligible under the previous terms were targeted by the Taliban.