Palestinian Wins ‘Arab Idol’

A 22-year-old wedding singer from the Gaza Strip beat out two finalists to become the first Palestinian to win the singing contest Arab Idol. Posters and billboards of Mohammed Assaf—a young singer with a “bright smile and warm voice”—were scattered across the poverty-stricken area of Gaza where residents flocked to TVs to watch one of their own win. “This young man ... is expressing the feelings of all of us, he is expressing our suffering, our pain, but also our love of life,'' Abu Ali, a teacher in Gaza, said. Assaf was showered with praise from the government shortly after his win, appointed youth ambassador for UNRWA, the U.N.'s agency for Palestinian refugees, and given a diplomatic passport by President Mahmud Abbas.