World-famous musician detained in Turkey on terrorism charges — Analysis

Syrian-born musician Omar Souleyman, who worked with the likes of Bjork and Damon Albarn, has been detained in Turkey over alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is deemed a terrorist group by Ankara.

Souleyman was brought in for questioning on Wednesday, with officers also searching through his home in Turkey’s southeastern province of Sanliurfa, the singer’s manager said.

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He said that recent reports had suggested the arrest of the musician after he traveled to Syria, where he was arrested by the YPG.

The YPG have been US allies in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), but Turkey considers them to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a threat to its national security.

For decades, the Workers’ Party has been fighting Turkish troops in the southeast of the country, striving for greater autonomy for the Kurdish population.  

Souleyman’s son denied his father’s alleged terrorist links, saying he didn’t have any political affiliation and had become the victim of a “malicious report.”Some outlets reported that the singer could be freed from detention on Thursday.

Coming from Syria’s majority-Kurdish province of Hasekeh, Souleyman had been known as a prolific wedding performer in his home country. After fleeing from the Syrian conflict, Souleyman moved to Turkey in order to further his career. The 55-year-old’s clips, including his top hit ‘Warni Warni’, have garnered millions of views on YouTube. He was also a performer at numerous large festivals across the world, including the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

Souleyman has collaborated with many stars, including Four Tet and Damon Albarn. His distinctive style is a mix of traditional Middle Eastern folk music and electronic sound.

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