"Arab Idol" crowned Mohammed Assaf as the winner of its second season. The 23-year-old, who sneaked out of the Gaza Strip to make the Cairo auditions, became the first Palestinian who won the TV singing contest aired on the region's MBC network.
As Palestinians celebrated his victory, Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement to say, "I congratulate the talented singer Mohammed Assaf ... who conveyed the message of the Palestinian people to the Arab nation through his art." The president also declared him a goodwill ambassador and granted him a diplomatic passport.
Assaf, who was living in Khan Younis refugee camp, was additionally named a youth ambassador by the U.N.'s Relief and Works Agency. The agency's commissioner Filippo Grandi stated, "All Palestinians share in his success."
Assaf captured the hearts of the region after initially deemed an underdog in the singing competition. Hamas, the military group in Palestine, criticized his performance on "Idol" at first, but seemed to have softened its stance following public's response to him.