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Hundreds of thousands watch Assaf perform
Published Saturday 22/06/2013 (updated) 23/06/2013 22:12
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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip on Friday crowded in cafes and open-air venues to watch the final episode of the popular Arab Idol reality show.

Palestinians are hoping their 23-year-old contender from the Gaza Strip Muhammad Assaf will be declared the winner of this year's series, which would be the first time for a Palestinian.

Though the Palestinians in the occupied territories have tended to support Egypt and its singers, actors and soap-operas, now they seem ready for a Palestinian victory -- if only on stage.

One remark from Egyptian member of the jury Hassan al-Shafii gave them more hope than usual. He told the audience that a voice like Assaf's comes around only once every 500 years.

But if Assaf is to rely on only the Palestinian people voting for him, his chances are slim because the two other finalists, Muhammad Jamal from Egypt and Farrah Yousif from Syria, have a much bigger pool of voters compared to the relatively small population of Palestine.

However, early indications show that large numbers of young people across the Arab world are voting for Assaf based on his singing abilities rather than nationality.

“The experience of Muhammad Assaf is great and hopeful. It proves the Palestinian struggle is not restricted to certain lines, but is rather open to all fields including arts,” says popular Palestinian singer Ammar Hassan.

Hassan gained popularity in Palestine and the Arab world through his participation in a similar show broadcast on the Lebanese satellite TV Future. He was one of the three finalists, though he didn’t win the title which went to a Libyan competitor.

Speaking to Ma’an by telephone, Hassan added, "Assaf’s voice represents a Palestinian dream. It’s a great, thrilling voice. Whether he wins the title or not, his career starts now after he attracted a large number of fans through his great performance.”

Pinned to their screens late Friday, Palestinian audiences listened attentively to the remarks by the jury. Among them are superstars Raghib Alameh and Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram. Ahlam, the renowned Emirati singer, brought some to tears when she told Assaf: “God bless Palestine which brought you into existence.”

Assaf performed three songs Friday the last of which was a popular Palestinian song Alli al-Kufya, or “Wave High the Kufiya.” The Kufiya is a traditional Arab men’s headdress, associated abroad with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
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1 ) Ariella / USA
22/06/2013 15:29
Go Muhammed Go! Raise your voice because we feel it in our hearts. For Al Quds, For Gaza, For Filastine !!!!!!!

2 ) Mitri I. Musleh / Canada
22/06/2013 17:03
One of the biggest challenges that stops the Arab world from forging ahead into the twenty first century is their old and worn out tribal mentality. Tribalism may have worked in the past but not today. When you vote for the next Arab Idol, don’t vote because of the individual’s nationality, rather for his or her ability to sing. Ma’an and the rest of the Arab media truly need to take the leading role in making this happen. Thus far, they have failed miserably in doing just that. After all, s

3 ) Alex / US
22/06/2013 17:50
Those wonderful and merciful Palestinians! They listened raptly to the wonderful voice of Gazan singer, a pride of Palestine, as two other Palestinians were being hanged inside Gaza prison. Do you think the condemned men heard the singing as the noose tightened around their throats?

4 ) ellen / ps
22/06/2013 17:52
he won

5 ) Mel / USA
22/06/2013 19:33
p.s. Good Luck Assaf! From an "infidel/goy",lol!
You don't have to understand a word,to be UP,SMILING & DANCING,or crying in the soul. It's all so steeped in love &history!
Quest:In the video below,why the French/Paris art theme behind the Syrian singer tho?Hmm?)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/21/arab-idol-mohammed-assaf-palestine-gaza

6 ) mohammed qawasmi / canada
22/06/2013 19:38
Go assaf goo God bless you
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