Gaza Palestinian singer wins ‘Arab Idol’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian singer from Gaza won the Pan-Arab singing competition “Arab Idol.”

Mohammed Assaf, 22, won the singing contest late Saturday night, a day after the show’s final was held in Beirut, Lebanon. The program was broadcast on the Saudi MBC channel.

Palestinians throughout Gaza and the West Bank poured onto the streets to celebrate after watching the victory from coffee shops and giant screens.

Assaf defeated Egyptian Ahmed Jamal and Syrian Farah Youssef, a woman.

His final performance was “Alli al-keffiyeh,” or “Raise Your Keffiyeh,” a Palestinian nationalist anthem. Assaf called on the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to settle their differences and unite.

Assaf, a wedding singer and university student,  is expected to visit the West Bank to perform, according to Reuters. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly offered him a position with “diplomatic standing.”

Assaf was born in Misrata, Libya, to Palestinian parents from the Gaza Strip. The family returned to the refugee camp at Khan Yunis in Gaza when he was 4.

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