In the United States, American Idol is about the furthest thing you can get from window into the current political struggles of our country. In Beirut, however, it is a very different story when the first Palestinian to qualify for Arab Idol makes it to the Top 10 finalists.
Mohammed Assaf, a native of Gaza, has rocketed to fame as one of the last 10 contestants standing in the American Idol-esque talent show Arab Idol. If he were a contestant on the U.S. version of the show, judge Nicki Minaj would have no doubt given him a sexy nickname and called him her future husband. In Beirut, Mohammed is considered a hero of the Palestinians.
"He shows that we Palestinians are humans who have a deep and beautiful culture," Gazy City resident Majida Abu Almeaza, 45, told The National. “He is the pride of Palestine. He broke the siege with his voice,'' fan Rehaf al-Batniji told Reuters, referring to the blockade of Gaza by Israel.
As torn and divided as the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories are, Mohammed’s voice has seemingly united people from all factions behind the handsome young man. Even politicians have scrambled to show their support for the singer who has been able to bond his followers together despite their political conflicts.
Salam Fayyad, outgoing prime minister of the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority, called on all Palestinians to support the Palestinian artist Mohammed Assaf, who is deservedly representing Palestine in the second season of Arab Idol.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has “stressed his support and backing to artist Assaf, whose talent represented pride to Palestine,” a statement from the news agency WAFA reported.
Can you imagine if the U.S. president threw his support behind an American Idol contestant because they were able to bring rival factions of our country together with the pure power of their voice?