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Omar Souleyman granted last minute Swedish visa

By | Published on Monday 12 August 2013

Omar Souleyman

Syrian musician Omar Souleyman was able to play the Way Out West festival in Gothenburg last week, after being granted a Swedish visa at the last minute.

As previously reported, Souleyman was initially denied a visa on the grounds that he might try to seek permanent residence in the country, causing him to cancel an appearance at Stockholm’s Music & Arts Festival. Commenting on this, Souleyman said: “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”.

His management and Way Out West’s organisers kept up pressure on the Swedish authorities to reverse the decision, and were eventually successful.

Speaking to The Guardian, Souleyman’s manager Mina Tosti said: “We apply for visas all the time and always have all the documents we need. This time, the application process was very difficult – the staff were very sceptical – and we were concerned from the outset. No other country has ever dealt with the situation like this. It was not promising. I felt incredibly angry. This was a complete miscalculation. It’s very clear that this artist is someone that tours all the time and all over the world and he has absolutely no wish to defect to Sweden on this very short trip for a festival”.

Way Out West festival promoter Niklas Herrström, added: “I was extremely surprised. The official reason for him not being granted a visa was that his risk of staying in Sweden was too big, but we gave them the facts: he has his family living in Syria [and] his tickets back and forth [to the festival]. It’s embarrassing that Sweden was the first country ever not to grant him a visa”.

Souleyman will be performing in the US later this month.