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Old 23.06.2013, 01:20
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Palestinian wins Arab Idol song contest

Gaza singer Mohammed Assaf wins Arab Idol contest


The talent show has been broadcast on MBC Television since March

Celebrations have erupted across the Palestinian territories at news that a wedding singer from the Gaza Strip has won the Arab Idol talent TV show.

Mohammed Assaf, 23, was a virtual unknown until a few weeks ago but has now become a local hero.

The contest, held in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was watched by millions across the region.

Fireworks were being set off in Gaza City and East Jerusalem as revellers thronged the streets.

Assaf was declared the winner on Saturday evening, a day after he competed in a final against two other singers - Ahmed Jamal from Egypt and Farah Youssef from Syria.

The talent contest has been broadcast on the Beirut-based MBC TV channel since March.

His last solo song, performed on Friday, had a political edge, asking for the Palestinian traditional scarf to be raised and calling for reconciliation, the BBC's Yolande Knell reports from Gaza City.

Hamas quiet

While Assaf was born in Libya to Palestinian parents, it is the first time a singer living in Gaza has won the prestigious event.

"Mohammed Assaf didn't free Palestine," wrote one blogger on Twitter. "But he brought joy to people who didn't smile for the past 66 years of occupation."

Palestinian public figures, including President Mahmoud Abbas, had called on all Palestinians to show their support for the singer.

He also had the backing of big businesses, which produced posters for him and sponsored billboards.

Although the show and its music are not liked by Hamas, which rules Gaza, it has kept relatively quiet about it, our correspondent says.

Assaf himself said he had had to plead with Hamas officials to let him leave Gaza. Having become stuck at the Rafah border crossing, he then arrived late for the auditions in Egypt.

He was apparently allowed to compete only because another Palestinian contender handed him his audition slot on hearing his voice.



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Old 23.06.2013, 11:34
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Re: Palestinian wins Arab Idol song contest

Fascinating! Who said that EF was getting boring? Also I note that it was posted at 1:20 in the morning. Insomniacs rule. Sleep is for the weak :-).
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