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Famous Syrian singer Omar Souleyman arrested in Turkey

The internationally renowned musician was taken into custody over alleged ties to the PKK
Omar Souleyman performed during the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway in 2013 (AFP)

Turkey police forces have arrested famous Syrian singer Omar Souleyman over allegations of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its offshoot the People's Protection Units (PYD), which are both deemed terrorist organisations by Ankara.

One person familiar with the case confirmed to Middle East Eye that a search warrant had been issued against the singer, whose real name is Omar al-Masikh - and that he had been detained.

Turkish news agency IHA reported that Souleyman was detained for allegedly giving a speech in Germany years ago praising imprisoned PKK co-founder Abdullah Ocalan.

Souleyman's son, Mohammed Souleyman, was quoted by Russia Today as saying that his father had been arrested on Wednesday morning from his home in Sanliurfa, a city in southeastern Turkey close to the border with Syria, and taken in for investigation to the provincial gendarmerie command. 

Souleyman is a very popular singer from the northeastern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, first known for singing in Arabic and Kurdish at local weddings and rising to global fame in 2011 thanks to his combination of traditional dabke music with electronic beats.

Souleyman has performed all over the world from the Glastonbury Festival to the Nobel Peace Price award ceremony. He moved to Turkey in 2011 following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.

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