Captivating audiences and judges, a 22-year-old Arab Idol contestant from the Gaza Strip became the first Palestinian to pass the auditions stage and has engendered a rare exhibition of solidarity from Palestinian factions.
The popular show, broadcast by the Lebanese MBC network, is entering its second season with the young Mohammad Assaf as a strong candidate for finals.
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For now, it appears that Assaf's impressive vocals are the one thing the divided Palestinian camp can unite behind.
Mohammad Assaf on Arab Idol
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called to congratulate him on passing the auditions, and former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged his people to vote for Assaf on the show, posting on his Facebook page that Assaf is "deservedly representing Palestine."
The Jawal mobile phone company has announced that text messages sent in support of Assaf will be free of charge, and the official Palestinian news agency has issued a fixed caption to encourage voting for him.
Assaf's road to the auditions in Cairo and hence to stardom was not an easy one. "The ride was beset with trouble and lasted two days," he recounted.
"I arrived late at the auditions. Thousands were standing in line, and the doors were already closed. I climbed the back fence to get in, but inside they have already finished giving numbers to the
Luckily, among the applicants was a Saudi acquaintance that teaches in the Egyptian capital and was familiar with his singing. "He gave me his number and told me I'm a good singer and that I have a better chance than him at winning," Assaf explained.
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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