Syrian singer Omar Souleyman performs at a 2013 benefit concert for victims and refugees of the conflict in Syria during the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. Photo: Robert MacPherson/AFP

Renowned Syrian artist denied entry to Sweden

Syrian artist Omar Soulyeman has had to cancel a Friday night concert in Stockholm after the Swedish consulate denied him and his band entry permits.

According to Luger, organisers of the Stockholm Music & Arts festival, the consulate determined that there was a great risk that the band members would apply for residence permits if granted the right to enter Sweden.

A statement on the festival website stated that "Omar Soleyman and his band have been denied visas in Sweden because Sweden does not currently allow in Syrian citizens."

Omar Souleyman is an established international artist and according to the festival organiser this is the first time he and his band have been refused a visa anywhere in the world.

Niklas Herrström of Luger called the decision "pure idiocy".

"It was around two weeks ago that we began to understand that there were some problems with his visa," Herrström told Swedish Radio.

"It seems like nobody at the consulate realised who he is and that seems to be the biggest problem…We have tried to pressure them and explain this to them since it is completely crazy that he will not be allowed to come to Sweden," Herrström added.

According to Herrström, Souleyman has visited Sweden before and has 10 concerts booked in Sweden.

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