Syrian musician Omar Souleyman granted entry to Sweden following ban

The Swedish government have overturned their previous decision

Omar Souleyman has been granted entry into Sweden after previously being denied a visa.

The Syrian musician had to pull out of Stockholm Music and Arts festival, but will now be able to play Way Out West in Gothenburg this weekend.

He was refused entry on the grounds that Sweden does not admit Syrian citizens into the country at the moment because of the chance that they might apply for a residence permit. However, The Guardian is now reporting that the government have overturned their previous decision.

Souleyman’s manager Mina Tosti has said that Souleyman went to the Swedish consulate in Istanbul to ask if the ban would be reversed. “I thought they would have no chance in the world, but it worked. They accepted them, they processed them, but they were not very nice about it,” said Tosti to The Guardian.

Way Out West, which takes place in Gothenburg from August 8 to 10, previously criticised the government’s earlier decision via a statement on its website. They wrote: “We think that Omar Souleyman has [fallen] victim of stupidly strict interpretation of a general rule. It’s obvious that Omar Souleyman is a professional touring artist who does not intend to flee to Sweden. It’s outrageous that Sweden is the first country in Omar’s career to refuse him a visa. Given the situation in Syria it feels even more important for artists to be able to express themselves freely.”

Souleyman said in a statement: “I could not believe the reason for which my visa was denied – that of Sweden being afraid that I will want to stay there and apply for a residence permit when I arrive. I am a musician who travels all over the world and to all western countries to sing for people and to make them dance. I have never ever had any wish or intention to remain in any country that has issued me a visa that enables me to perform for people there. It is clear to anyone who will take a look at my extensive touring history for the last five years in the western world where I have been and how many borders I have crossed. Hundreds and hundreds.” He added: “I have a family in Syria and I have no intention of ever abandoning them.”

Omar Souleyman has previously worked with Björk on her ‘Biophilia’ project and has also recorded with Damon Albarn.