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Omar Souleyman Refused Entry to Sweden

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Avid Afropop listeners and readers will remember a few months back when we reported on Omar Souleyman working with U.K. electro producer Four Tet. It was a pretty good day for fans of Syria’s hardest working musician, and we were happy to do our job and spread the word.

Today we have less exciting news The organizers of The Stockholm Music & Arts Festival have reported that Souleyman and his band were denied visas to enter Sweden. From the festival’s press release:

“Omar Souleyman with band [was] refused visa in Sweden because Sweden does not let [in] Syrian citizens of the moment. They believe that the risk is too great [and] that the band must apply for a residence permit in Sweden. Not only is it absurd not to allow Syrian citizens. It is of course extra crazy when it comes to an artist that tours around the world without any problem. An artist who also has even played in Sweden before. It is the first time the band [was] denied visas ever in the world. Go Sweden. It is of course sad at all levels. Political and cultural. We have done everything in our power to resolve this, but the Swedish government has decided. However, we can communicate our views on the matter; sheer idiocy.”

We agree with the organizers of the festival- the Swedish government’s decision is ridiculous and regrettable. Omar Souleyman, his band, and the organizers and ticket holders of The Stockholm Music & Arts festival have our sympathies and respect. Trumpeter Goran Kajfeš has filled Souleyman’s slot at the festival. For more information, visit The Stockholm Music & Arts Festival’s website.

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