Syrian musician Omar Souleyman released after arrest in Turkey over alleged links to Kurdish militants

Singer doesn’t belong to any militant group, says manager

Liam James
Saturday 20 November 2021 17:00
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<p>Souleyman has found fame in the west, playing at Glastonbury </p>

Souleyman has found fame in the west, playing at Glastonbury

Syrian singer Omar Souleyman has been released from custody in Turkey two days after being detained for alleged links to Kurdish militants.

He was freed by a local court in Turkey's Syrian border province of Sanliurfa after giving a statement to security forces, a local security source said.

Turkish authorities arrested Mr Souleyman, real name Omar Almasikhm, on allegations that he was a member of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

The Turkish state considers YPG a terrorist organisation and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has led an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Mr Souleyman's manager denied that he belonged to any militant group. He told AFP that the singer was questioned over reports he had recently travelled to an area of Syria controlled by the YPG.

After beginning his career performing at weddings and other events in northern Syria, Mr Souleyman's upbeat electronic music won him international fame in recent years.

He has released several albums and collaborated with musicians such as Bjork and Four Tet, as well as playing at Britain's Glastonbury Festival and a 2013 concert for the Nobel Peace Prize award.

He has lived in Sanliurfa for about a decade after leaving Syria, like some 3.6m Syrian refugees in Turkey who fled the 10-year war.

Mr Souleyman has said his lively music that blends electronic and folk music is influenced by elements of Arabic, Kurdish and other cultures in the region.

Turkey's military has carried out three cross-border operations against the YPG in Syria and frequently detains people domestically for alleged links to the PKK.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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