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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 01:24 GMT 02:24 UK
Saudi palaver over pop idol fever
Hisham Abdel Rahman with his Star Academy trophy
Hisham Abdel Rahman has become a familiar face in the Arab World
The Saudi star of a reality TV show caused such commotion among fans in a Riyadh mall he was reportedly arrested for sparking "an indecent scene".

Hisham Abdel Rahman, 24, winner of this year's Star Academy, was mobbed by male and female fans wanting to kiss him and shake his hand in Kingdom Tower Mall.

Religious police patrolling the area deemed the scene "improper" and tried to break up the crowd.

Mr Rahman was reportedly held after refusing to leave the shopping centre.

He was forcibly escorted out and taken to the offices of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice for interviewing, according to the Arab News.

He was freed and flown back to his home town of Jeddah after an intervention from the office of the Riyadh governor, an anonymous police official told the Associated Press.

'Merely purposeful rumours'

Mr Rahman became famous across the Arab world after winning this year's Star Academy, which is owned by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) and based on a French show of the same name.

The show brings together 16 young Arabs in a shared house in Beirut, who all attend sports, singing, music and dance classes and are on view 24 hours a day.

Hisham Abdel Rahman with his fans in Jeddah
The reality TV star is a hit with both male and female fans

The winner is given a recording contract.

LBC confirmed the incident in the shopping mall had taken place.

But Mr Rahman told the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat he was neither detained or mistreated saying it was "merely purposeful rumours".

"What really happened was that a Committee member approached me, with all due respect, and asked me not to stay among a big crowd. I took my family members (away)... until the crowd disappeared and then we left for Jeddah as if nothing had happened," he said.

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