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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 23:54 GMT 00:54 UK
Libyan takes Mid-East pop crown
Ayman al-Aathar (left) and Ammar Hassan
The contest ended in a show of unity
Libyan singer Ayman al-Aathar has won a Middle East pop contest, edging out Palestinian Ammar Hassan.

The Super Star competition was started by the Lebanese TV station Future Television and is filmed in Beirut.

Ayman won by 54% to 46%, when 3.2 million viewers cast votes by phone, text message and e-mail.

After the result was declared, both finalists appeared on stage together, holding each other's national flag in a display of unity.

Crowds had gathered in Ammar Hassan's home town - Salfit in the West Bank - to watch the contest.

His progress in the Super Star contest over the past 13 weeks has become a matter of national pride for many.

His father, Hassan Daqrouq, said that his son had become a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for independence.

Hassan Daqrouq
Hassan Daqrouq watches his son sing for Palestine
However, some militants have frowned on what they see as frivolous activity and the singer had been criticised at the local mosque.

But his father said: "To each his own. Some fight for Palestine. My son sings for Palestine."

Multiple votes were allowed, and rumours were rife among the Palestinians that Libya had provided free telephone lines to boost the vote for Ayman al-Aathar.

For his part, one young Palestinian computer expert devised a shortcut that would allow easy multiple voting for Ammar Hassan.

"There is more than one way to fight for your country," said Ahmed Fulpan, 16.

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