Mohammed Assaf

Early Life and Education
– Born in Misrata, Libya to Palestinian parents
– Moved back to Gaza at the age of 4 and grew up in Khan Younis refugee camp
– Attended UNRWA elementary school in Gaza
– Mother’s family is from the village of Bayt Daras, captured by IDF in 1948
– Father’s family is from Beersheba

Musical Career Before Arab Idol
– Started singing at the age of five
– Sang at weddings and private events before gaining recognition
– Appeared on a popular local television program in Gaza
– Sang at an event attended by Yasser Arafat
– Offered contracts with local record companies

Arab Idol Journey
– Traveled from Gaza Strip to Egypt to audition for Arab Idol
– Faced complications at the border and had to convince Egyptian security to leave Gaza
– Jumped over a wall to audition after the doors were closed
– Given the nickname ‘Asaroukh’ (The Rocket) by judge Ragheb Alama
– Declared the winner of Arab Idol, receiving the most votes

Impact and Popularity
– Celebrations erupted in Palestine and other Arab countries after his victory
– Became a goodwill ambassador for peace by UNRWA
– Named ambassador of culture and arts by the Palestinian government
– Enjoyed popularity in the Arab world and diaspora
– Performed in Arab and international festivals with Awtar Band

Political Stance
– Condemned the Israeli occupation of West Bank and poor living conditions in Gaza Strip
– Inspired by Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi’s hunger strike protest
– Frequently performed wearing the checkered keffiyeh associated with Palestinian nationalism
– Popular in the Palestinian territories
– Song ‘Ana Dammi Falastini’ briefly removed from streaming platforms, sparking public uproarSources: