Saudi Arabia refuses visa for Turkey’s ‘rock singer imam’

Saudi Arabia refuses visa for Turkey’s ‘rock singer imam’

Saudi Arabia refuses visa for Turkey’s ‘rock singer imam’

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A Turkish imam who sings in a rock band and attracted considerable media attention after releasing an album last year, has announced that Saudi Arabia refused to grant his request for a visa ahead of a scheduled concert in the Gulf country.

“Twice I have given concerts in the United States, a non-Muslim country. But the fact that an Islamic country like Saudi Arabia rejected my visa application is thought-provoking,” Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer told Doğan News Agency on Jan. 5.

Tüzer’s heady mixture of prayers, sermons and rock ‘n’ roll brought him some media notoriety in Turkey, and he has been giving concerts both at home and abroad since 2013 when he formed his band, “FiRock.”

Following a nine-month internal investigation last year, his employer the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) issued only a “warning” to Tüzer, which he hailed for showing the “tolerance” of Turkey’s religious body.

The rocking imam’s concerts in the United States were organized by Catherine Christer Roberta Hennix, a Swedish mathematics professor who converted to Islam.

Tüzer, who lives in the southern Turkish province of Antalya, was set to give a concert in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Feb. 18, again through an invitation by Hennix, but his visa application has been rejected by the Saudi authorities.

“It is painful to see a Muslim artist’s concert prevented in a Muslim country. But I have nothing to do other than respect this decision,” Tüzer said, adding that no reason had been given for the refusal.