Gaza Refugee Wins 'Arab Idol'

Ramallah (dpa) - Palestinians celebrated Saturday night in the streets of Ramallah and other West Bank cities when a refugee from the Gaza Strip won the television talent show Arab Idol.

Fireworks exploded in the skies of the West Bank, cars horns sounded and thousands of Palestinians danced and cheered in the streets when a judging panel announced that the Khan Younis refugee camp's Muhammad Assaf, 23, was the winner.

Palestinians gathered in city centres across the West Bank to watch the results of the talent show being aired live from Beirut.

Assaf was widely favoured to win based on the reaction he got from the four-member panel of judges and the general public during his more than two months of competition, but anxiety was nevertheless high as the results were announced.

Assaf sang in the final show against two strong contestants from Egypt and Syria, who remained from the original 27 contestants.

"I would have been really disappointed if did not win," said Yousef Hassan, 35, who watched with hundreds of on a big screen in the centre of Ramallah. "But, I was confident he would win. I never doubted that."

He was not alone in having his hopes fulfilled.

"Assaf is a true talent," said Mariam Abdul Latif, 45, watching the show in Ramallah with her husband and children. "I would have supported him whether he was Palestinian or not."

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