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Turkey: Syrian singer 'arrested' on terrorism charges

Syrian singer Omar Souleyman (C) leaves the hospital, as he is escorted by Turkish policemen, in Sanliurfa, on 18 November 2021. [STR/AFP via Getty Images]
Syrian singer Omar Souleyman (C) leaves the hospital, as he is escorted by Turkish policemen, in Sanliurfa, on 18 November 2021. [STR/AFP via Getty Images]

Turkish police are reported to have detained internationally-renowned Syrian musician Omar Souleyman yesterday over alleged links with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

According to AFP, Souleyman, whose real name is Omar Al-Masikh, was taken into police custody for questioning after a search warrant was issued. He was arrested at his home in the south-east Turkey border city of Sanliurfa where he has been living for more than a decade since fleeing the conflict in his native Syria.

News of his arrest was apparently confirmed by his manager, said AFP, who pointed out that he expected the singer to be released soon. Souleyman's son Muhammad also told a Syrian news outlet of his father's arrest, while an official in the local governor's office confirmed the details with the Guardian.

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However, last night posts on Souleyman's social media accounts appeared to dispute the arrest claim. His official Twitter account replied to the Guardian by saying, "Shame that you are not fact checking and publishing untruths."

Originally from the Kurdish-majority Hasekeh province in north-east Syria, the musician is a well-established wedding singer and has recorded over 500 albums in both Arabic and Kurdish. He blends traditional Middle Eastern folk music with techno, and is known as the "King of Syrian Techno".

In a 2013 interview with Vice, Souleyman described the influences on his music: "The area where I live is a triangle—there's Turkish people, Christians and Kurds. I used to sing in every one of these areas. They all play their own style of traditional music, so I used to sing in their style when I went to play there."

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