Last updated: 7 August, 2013

Sweden grants visa to Syrian singer

Ecstatic organisers of a Swedish music festival said Wednesday that Syrian singer Omar Souleyman has finally been granted a visa after an initial application was refused.

“Amazing news! Omar Souleyman has just been granted an entry visa to Sweden! So tomorrow at 18:15 he will be on stage,” promoters said on the website of the Gothenburg festival, Way Out West.

The issue had become controversial after it was revealed that the singer had initially not been able to gain entry into Sweden, even though the artist had visited several EU countries since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.

Way Out West organisers said the star was treated the same as all other Syrians.

The Swedish government has refused to comment on the incident, claiming that every visa demand should be treated individually and confidentially, through the appropriate Swedish diplomatic channels.

In this instance, the final decision over the visa lay with the Swedish consulate in Istanbul as Souleyman lives in Turkey.

“It is not the foreign ministry that decides,” Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter on Friday.

The legal director of the migrations agency said his organisation did not have the jurisdiction to rule on such requests and said that although there was no official line to refuse Syrians entry, they were less and less likely to have an opportunity to travel to Europe.

“The worse things get in a country, the more difficult it is to obtain a visa to the EU,” Mikael Ribbenvik, told SR public radio on Tuesday.

Souleyman sings in Kurdish and Arabic in a “mixture of psychedelic folk, electronic music and dance” and has collaborated with artists such as Bjork and Damon Albarn, the Blur singer, stated Way Out West.