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Arab Idol Winner Mohammed Assaf Welcomed By Gaza Crowds

26/06/2013 16:57 BST | Updated 26/06/2013 16:59 BST

A 23-year-old wedding singer living in Gaza has become a national obsession in Palestine after winning the Arab Idol singing competition.

Mohammed Assaf, who was born in Libya to Palestinian parents, won the competition on Saturday, after competing in the final against Egyptian Ahmed Jamal and Syrian Farah Youssef, the BBC says.

Between the Rafah crossing with Egypt and Mr Assaf's home in the Khan Younis refugee camp, tens of thousands of supporters waited in the baking sun for their Palestinian hero to return home.

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Crowds filled the streets to the brim

Crowds were so dense that the usual journey time of 15 minutes increased to around two hours.

Meanwhile, celebrations rang out across other Palestinian territories, with fireworks set off in Gaza City and East Jerusalem.

The celebrations come after a renewed period of violence on the Israeli-Palestinian border last year saw rocket fire exchanged between the two nations.

Mr Assaf acknowledged the political importance of his presence on the talent show, which is part of the Idol series created by television producer Simon Fuller, by including a patriotic element in some of his performances.

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Mr Assaf has become a Palestinian hero

His last solo piece featured a a request for the Palestinian traditional scarf to be raised.

He has even received support from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and officials of the Islamist Hamas group.

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Mr Assaf won the show on Saturday