Omar Souleyman arrested in Turkey on terrorism charges

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  • The Syrian singer was reportedly detained during a raid at his house in the city of Urfa.
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  • Syrian singer Omar Souleyman has been arrested in Turkey on terrorism charges, Kronos reports. The singer, real name Omar Almasikh, was detained during a raid by local officials on his home in Urfa, a city in southeastern Turkey, not far from the Syrian border. War reporter Jake Hanrahan, who has worked in Syria and Turkey, tweeted that Almasikh had reportedly been accused of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, AKA PKK. Almasikh is one of tens of thousands of Turkish residents who have been detained on terrorism charges recently due to president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's crackdown on followers of the cleric Fethullah Gülen—blamed by Turkish authorities for the failed 2016 coup attempt—as well as the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the UK and the US. Souleyman's manager told Agence France-Press that he is being held and questioned over reports that he traveled to an area of his native Syria currently under control of the YPG, PKK's Syrian affiliate. The YPG has also been a key ally in the West's conflict with the Islamic State in Syria, complicating relations with Turkey, reports the Guardian.
    According to the Kronos article, Almasikh was given a health check before leaving the hospital to be questioned elsewhere. He has been living in Urfa for several years, ever since the civil war broke out in Syria. As Omar Souleyman, Almasikh took the traditional dabke sound global, combining it with electronic beats and performing at festivals like Glastonbury, Roskilde and Way Out West. He has worked with Four Tet, Modeselektor and Gilles Peterson. We will report more on this story as it unfolds. Revisit our 2015 film with Omar Souleyman.
    Update, November 17th: This piece was updated at 7:25 PM GMT with further context on the political circumstances leading up to Omar Souleyman's arrest.