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While their filmmakers may have been absent from the Oscars this year, Palestinians had reason to celebrate over the weekend after Bethlehem-born singer Yaqoub Shaheen won the hugely popular Arab Idol reality TV contest.
Thousands reportedly took the streets across the West Bank and Gaza after Shaheen was crowned the winner on Saturday, beating Ammar Mohammed from Yemen and Ameer Dandan, a Palestinian born in Israel but residing in the U.S.
Shaheen accepted the victory by draping the Palestinian flag on his shoulders and singing a patriotic song with the line, “My pledge and my oath, my blood is Palestinian.”
The win comes just four years after Mohammed Assaf, from Gaza, won the contest, becoming an overnight celebrity across the Arab world and being named a UN goodwill ambassador.
Assaf’s story of escaping Gaza to compete in the competition was made into a film, 2015’s The Idol, directed by two-time Oscar-nominated director Hany Abu-Assad.
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