Palestinian 'Idol' Mohammed Assaf Says Banned From World Cup Ceremony

Arab Idol winner from Gaza says his scheduled appearance at opening ceremony in Brazil cancelled; Colombian singer Shakira reportedly boycotting event as a result.

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Palestinian 'Arab Idol' winner Mohammed Assaf says he has been banned from performing at the World Cup opening ceremony in Brazil this summer, a website called Emirates24/7 reported.

At a press conference earlier this week, Assaf said that due to some unspecified countries or groups, his record company was informed that his scheduled appearance was cancelled.

According to the report, Assaf also announced online that Colombian singer Shakira, who sang at the 2010 World Cup, is refusing to perform at the ceremony as a result.

Assaf, a Palestinian resident of the Khan Younis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, rose to international fame last June, when he won the Arab singing competition, after sneaking out of Gaza and making it to auditions in Cairo.

He has since been hailed as a Palestinian national hero, and Israel even granted him West Bank residency. He has chosen to relocate to Dubai for now, where he says he can travel more easily to his concerts.

Kaffiyeh-clad Mohammed Assaf, after winning 'Arab Idol' last year. Credit: AP

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