Arab Idol winner gets hero’s welcome in Gaza

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10:14 PM June 25th, 2013

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June 25th, 2013 10:14 PM

In this Saturday, June 22, 2013 photo released by the MBC Group, singer Mohammed Assaf is seen on the Arab Idol stage in Beirut, Lebanon. AP

RAFAH, Gaza Strip— The first Palestinian winner of the Arab Idol contest has returned to the Gaza Strip in a chaotic welcome by thousands waiting to catch a glimpse of him.

A convoy of cars drove through the crossing between Egypt and Gaza Tuesday afternoon. Mohammed Assaf’s manager, Wael Yazagi, confirms the singer has returned to Gaza.

Thousands more waited outside Assaf’s home in the Khan Younis refugee camp. Palestine TV broadcast the homecoming live, but there was no immediate sign of the singer.

Assaf’s weekend victory in the TV competition has given Palestinians a sense of pride and national unity.

However, Palestinian divisions were apparent during Assaf’s return to Gaza, ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas. Devout Muslims consider TV singing contests as forbidden by religion.

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