Libyans ecstatic over Arab 'Idol' outcome

MUMBAI: The 'Idol' phenomenon is making waves all over the world. While the Indian Idol from Sony Entertainment Television's stable has kicked off its ground activities in various Indian cities, the Middle East's Arab Idol - Super Star has just been announced, however, not without its share of controversies.

The two finalists for the Super Star were a Libyan dental student - Ayman al-Attar and a Palestinian singer - Amar Hassan, of whom Attar emerged the winner. While the Libyans are ecstatic with the outcome, some Palestinians ascribed their defeat to underhand tactics by the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who allegedly boosted his contestant's vote by allowing free telephone calls in Libya.

Palestinians are alleging that Gaddafi was instrumental in backing a costly nationwide publicity campaign and also arranged for free phone calls for Libyans who wanted to vote.

The poll of almost six million was won by al-Attar 54 percent to 46 percent. According to a report published in The Jerusalem Post, Hassan's success was viewed as a barometer of Arab support for the Palestinians, after the Palestinian Authority endorsed him as an important symbol of the struggle against Israel. Official celebrations planned across the territories were immediately cancelled when Hassan lost, to widespread local disbelief. Many said they expected him to win the title, not only because he was a better singer, but because Arab viewers would sympathise with him as a Palestinian struggling against Israel.

According to another media report, one Palestinian computer expert said that he had devised a shortcut that would allow easy multiple voting for Ammar Hasan.

Hassan was among the 6,000 aspiring singers who had auditioned for "Super Star", of whom 17 were chosen. Out of the 17, two were chosen for the final and deciding round.

On the other hand, some Palestinian militants objected to the hoopla that was spun around the talent hunt. Islamic groups like the militant Hamas said that it distracted the public from a two-week-old hunger strike by some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners demanding better conditions in Israeli jails.

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