Omar Souleyman, a Syrian singer and bakery owner, was released from custody in Turkey on Friday after being held for two days on suspicion of terrorist activity. According to Reuters, the singer, whose real name is Omar Almasikh, was suspected of being part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group outlawed in Turkey.

For the past decade, Omar Souleyman, 55, has been living in Sanliurfa, Turkey, where he runs a bakery and occasionally performs electronic dance music. Like millions of refugees during the 10-year-long Civil War in Syria, Souleyman fled to Turkey and has lived there ever since.

Arrested on Wednesday, he was accused of being a member of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which the Turkish government considers a terrorist organization with ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party. According to Reuters, the group has let an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Turkish authorities reportedly detain people for questioning quite often regarding their potential connection to the terrorist organization, but it is unclear why Omar Souleyman was targeted in this specific arrest.

He was released two days later after questioning. His manager denied all allegations that Omar Souleyman belonged to a militant group of any kind. Souleyman also gave a statement denying any involvement and was allowed to walk free on Friday.

Souleyman has performed internationally on many occasions, gaining national attention for his blend of Syrian folk music and electronic synthesizers.

In 2011, he worked Icelandic pop singer Bjork to remix some of her songs from the album Biophilia. He’s also worked with British producer Four Tet on his 2013 album Wanu Wanu and his 2015 project Bahdeni Nami.

In 2011, Omar Souleyman performed at the Glastonbury Music Festival in Somerset, England, where he was dubbed “the king of Syrian Techno.”

The Syrian singer followed that up with an appearance at the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, and a performance at the 2014 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee, U.S.

According to The Guardian, officials in Turkey arrived with a search warrant and also searched his home while he remained detained. His son Muhammad also denied any involvement with the Kurdistan Workers Party, and said that he believed there was some sort of “malicious report” published about him.

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly detained tens of thousands of people over the past few years, as the country strengthens its fight against the Kurdistan Workers Party. A failed coup attempt in 2016, which was blamed on the Kurdish militant group, has escalated tensions ever further.

The Kurdish Workers Party is also labeled a terrorist organization in the United States, since Turkey is a NATO ally. The two have a very violent and controversial history, with some critics believing that labeling the group as terrorists is a step too far.

Members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, a militant group labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S., thought to have been involved with singer Omar Souleyman
Members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, a militant group labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S., thought to have been involved with singer Omar Souleyman. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The militant organization has historically targeted Turkish city centers with bombings, but the group argues that they are merely fighting Turkey for the rights of the Kurds. In response, Turkey has also burned down countless Kurdish villages, sacked and depopulated Kurdish towns, and banned having any affiliation to the group.

“The human rights picture in Turkey is bleak,” wrote Amnesty International, an independent non-profit organization that focuses on human rights. “Most of the ‘disappeared’ are Kurdish villagers with no history of political activity, detained during the course of security raids on suspicion of giving food or shelter to PKK members.”

iHA, a Turkish news agency, said that Omar Souleyman also visited the hospital for a health checkup before being arrested by Turkish authorities.

Souleyman has yet to comment on the arrest or his subsequent release.