Palestinian ‘Arab Idol’ Winner Booted From World Cup Performance

And he's got a big ally in Shakira.

By Jamilah King Feb 14, 2014

Palestinian "Arab Idol" winner Mohammad Assaf said at a recent press conference that he’s been banned from performing at the World Cup opening ceremony this summer because of some "countries" or "groups" — he didn’t specify who — pulled the plug.

Milanna Knezevic explains over at Policy Link:

Assaf, a former wedding singer, has become somewhat of Palestinian hero; when his victory was announced, people in Gaza and Ramallah poured onto the streets in celebration.

In addition to singing patriotic Palestinian songs, Assaf has made political statements on a number of occassions: "We are searching for our rights, for peace, unity and the end of the occupation and illegal Israeli settlements," he said to the New York Times in December.

But Assaf’s popularity, which has made headlines abroad, has also drawn criticism.

In an email complaining to Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Palestinian children are "educated to hate Jews, while Palestinian officials continue to call for their deaths." He also included a link to one of Assaf’s performance of ali al-keffiyeh, a Palestinian folk song.

But there is some good news in all of this. Shakira, who performed at the World Cup’s opening ceremony back in 2010, has reportedly decided to boycott this year’s opening ceremony in Brazil in protest of Assaf’s ousture.