Who is Syrian wedding singer Omar Souleyman and why has he been arrested?

Turkish authorities say they have detained the performer over ties to Kurdish militias

Syrian singer Omar Souleyman started out performing at weddings in the country's small northern town of Hasakah.

Since fleeing Syria amid an exodus of refugees, Mr Souleyman has performed at music festivals in Sweden, the US, and the UK, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Norway.

On Wednesday, Turkish authorities said they detained Mr Souleyman on terrorism charges and alleged ties to Kurdish militias, which Turkey considers terrorist groups.

A Sunni Muslim, Mr Souleyman said his music is inspired from a number of cultures, including Kurdish, Assyrian and Arab.

In his iconic black-rimmed sunglasses and the red-and-white kaffiyeh, along with traditional thobe, Mr Souleyman is easily recognisable and often sings about love in Arabic, using synthesisers and other electronic instruments.

The 55-year-old artist, whose real name is Omar Almasikh, runs a bakery in Turkey's border town of Akcakale, where he distributes free bread to families who fled violence in northern Syria.

His 2017 album, To Syria with Love, pays homage to his home country and his life as a refugee. Despite some mournful lyrics, the upbeat dabkeh-style, techno-infused music is popular with those who speak the language and western audiences alike.

"I can't understand a word but I love the music," one commentator on YouTube wrote.

Updated: November 18th 2021, 11:41 AM