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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 March 2007, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Iraq unites over talent show star
Shada Hassoun
Shada Hassoun

An Iraqi singer has paid tribute to her country after winning a popular pan-Arab TV talent show.

Shada Hassoun, 25, thanked Iraqis and wrapped the country's flag around her body when the result of Star Academy Middle East was announced.

Although she lives in Morocco, Hassoun's progress has been avidly followed in Iraq and her victory was greeted by gunfire in Baghdad.

She beat contestants from Lebanon, Tunisia and Egypt.

Power cut

In an emotional interview with Iraq's al-Sharqiya television station shortly after her win, Hassoun said: "I thank Baghdad and I thank Iraq."

Hassoun, the daughter of a Moroccan mother and an Iraqi father, has been backed by both Sunni and Shia communities and gave many Iraqis an opportunity to forget their own troubles.

The announcement from Lebanon, where the final was staged, came just after midnight in Iraq.

In Baghdad, a power cut meant many who had been following Hassoun's fortunes over the past four months were unable to see the moment of victory.

But those with generators spread the news which was greeted with cheering and celebratory gunfire.

Star Academy Middle East is the Arab version of the French show Star Academy produced by Dutch company Endemol, which also makes Big Brother in the UK.




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