UPDATE: Mohammed Assaf IS Arab Idol!!!

Israel/Palestine
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Palestinian Mohammed Assaf is Arab Idol

Palestinian Mohammed Assaf, a strikingly talented, charismatic, handsome, Gazan with a “golden” voice has just been chosen Arab Idol by millions of fans and viewers all over the world.

Mohammed Assaf’s talents were recognized immediately by the judges as he was compared to one of the 4 greats of Arabic music , Abdel Halim Hafez, during his first audition for Arab Idol. Throughout the competition Assaf went on to capture hearts across the Arab world and beyond,  demonstrating a mastery of technique that led one of the judges to assert Mohammed was not only a Palestinian artist but a “son of all the Arab world.”

It is likely Mohammed Assaf will go on to be recognized as the first newly discovered great Arabic singer of 21st century. The cultural impact of his artistic influence and meteoric rise to fame and what this means to Palestine and the Arab world is immeasurable.

Update: Crowds going wild with happiness  in Gaza and Ramallah [Updated with wild fantastic video]:

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Ramallah celebrating after Palestinian Mohammed Assaf wins Arab Idol (photo: Allison Deger)
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Ramallah celebrating after Palestinian Mohammed Assaf wins Arab Idol (photo: Allison Deger)
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Ramallah, kids celebrating after Gazan Mohammed Assaf wins Arab Idol (photo: Allison Deger)

They look like regular kids having fun don’t they? It’s hard to imaging these are the same kinds of kids Israel tortures on a regular basis. Alas, back to the amazing story of Palestine’s glory tonight.

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Ramallah, Palestinian Mohammed Assaf wins Arab Idol, partying in the street after midnight. June 23, 2013 (photo: Allison Deger)
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Crowds fill the streets of Ramallah June 23 2013 (Photo: Allison Deger)

Update: Palestinian Arab Idol Mohammed Assaf’s final song, which he sang first wearing then holding a Palestinian flag, is a song asking Arabs to unite… and about Palestine. (We’ll update when we get a translation…update: amazing, here it is).

Update: After this performance Mohammed Assaf was immediately set upon by some men who handed him a large plaque with the UN symbol on it. Assaf was granted a position of UNRWA Goodwill Youth Ambassador and according to my sources something similar from the Palestinian Authority.

The last image shown on Arab Idol’s screen was a man placing a keffiyeh around Assaf’s shoulders.

Update: Mohammed Assaf just fell to the ground in prayer as his name was announced as Arab Idol. What an incredible sight to behold. The audience has erupted in wild cheering and confetti is raining down. He is making an acceptance speech now. We will update as soon as we can get a translation!

This just in from Mondoweiss contributor Rawan Yaghi:

He thanked the whole Arab world. He said he had never believed he would even get to the finals. He said: ” I want to thank the Palestinian people who have struggled for over 60 years.. I want to thank these amazing brave people who despite everything manage to live through. I dedicate my winning to the Palestinian people everywhere in the world, in Gaza, Ramallah, Nazareth, camps, Lebanon, diaspora, and all over the world. I dedicate it to the prisoners, the injured, the martyrs and all who gave sacrifices to Palestine.” And he thanked his parents and the judges and the musicians and the other contestants and the producers. And everyone who supported him.

Incredible. Bursting hearts all around.

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Arab Idol 2013 finalists listen and wait for the announcement of winner June 22, 2013

Update: The final Arab Idol elimination process is coming up. This Instagram was just posted from the audience as people all over the world are waiting in anticipation. There’s an emotionally brilliant performance by an assembly of incredible talent including past contestants as well as all the finalists singing a compilation from Les Miserables [must see for background]. Mohammed Assaf’s solo brings the judges and audience to their feet:

Update: Mohammed Assaf just sang Safeeni Marrah live on Arab Idol 2013’s final episode, the same song he used for his audition with some of the lyrics featured below.

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Ramallah, Palestine, Crowd waiting for announcement of whether Mohammed Assaf will win Arab Idol  June 22, 2013 (photo: @iFalasteen)

Update: Bethlehem waits:

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Bethlehem, Palestine from National Campaign for Mohammed Assaf (via Kamel Hawwash)
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Nazarath, Israel/Palestine. Supporting Muhammad Assaf June 22, 2013(via @iFalasteen)

While we wait on the edge of our seats for the announcement of the winner of Arab Idol later today, I’m replaying Mohammed Assaf’s amazing performance of last night [‘Raise your keffiyeh, raise it’] over and over.

Assaf is of course the 23-year-old sensation from a refugee camp in Gaza who has crystallized Palestinian and Arab pride around the world. Below are two other songs that he sang last night.

Also, below is something we’ve never posted before: Assaf’s original audition for the Arab Idol 2013 judges. It includes an English translation of the lyrics as well as the judges’ comments.

We will be updating this post as the night progresses, so stay tuned.

With over 3,622,527 viewings thus far, Mohammed Assaf’s audition video remains quite popular.

The 4 judges, right to left: Ragheb Alameh, Nancy Ajram, Ahlam, and Hassan El Shafei

Ahlam: Ahlan Mohammed

Ragheb: you came from Gaza?

Mohammed: Yes, I arrived today

Ragheb: Thank god for safety (a common expression of the Levant region that we say to those who arrive from a long travel)

Ahlam: how long did it take you?

Mohammed: Two days

Ahlam: Til you arrived?

Mohammed: Yes till I arrived

Ragheb: Why?

Mohammed: There is some problems on the crossing point and such

Ragheb: We salute you and welcome you, what will you sing?

Mohammed sings Safeeni Marrah
Lyrics:

You’re true to me one time
And harsh with me the next
Don’t forget me while you’re at it

We were two hearts together
And love gathered us and formed us
As the eye said to the other eye
We were created for each other

And I remain beside you I don’t know
What is the hiding place?
And my heart remains joyous and scared

Nancy interrupts Mohammed

Ajram: Enough….enough…..don’t tire your self more

Ahlam: Take pity on us man

Ragheb: See Habibi, honestly, I hear a lot of people, and the next day I listen to some more and I forget the former, you are one of these voices that I will remember, because you have the capability of controlling your voice, the high pitch, the low pitch, romantic range…

Ahlam: Did anybody tell you that your voice is like Abd Al Halim’s voice?

Hassan: Good job, I am with Ragheb, you are among the voices that we will remember down the road.

Ragheb: You have 4 Yes

Ahlam: Big Big yes

Previous posts about Mohammed Assaf here, here, here, here, and here.

(Enass Tinah and Rawan Yaghi contributed to this report. Enass Tinah provided all video translation)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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