Quan la cantant iraquiana Shada Hassoon, de 25 anys, surt els divendres en el programa de televisió libanesa Star Academy, una mena d'Operación Triunfo àrab, aconsegueix el que encara no han pogut fer els seus polítics: unir tot el país. Fins i tot, els enfrontaments sectaris semblen superar-se, segons explica Omar Salih:
Viewers can use their cellphones to send text messages that scroll across the bottom of the TV during the show. On one recent program, messages included "The swords of Al Mujahedin are in the hands of Shada," and "Al Mahdi Army fighters support Shada."
Sunni insurgents call themselves mujahedin, and the Mahdi Army militia is loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. At last, the warring factions seem to have found something they agree on.
Recently, Hassoon prepared to sing Baghdad, a famous old song by the Lebanese singer Fairoz that describes a great city of moonlight, riches and beauty. She wept during the televised rehearsal.
Text messages from viewers started scrolling across the TV screen. "Don't worry Shada," one said. "It will be beautiful again."
ADDENDA.- Programes com aquest o celebracions com el dia dels enamorats exasperen els islamistes que ho consideren un senyal de la penetració de la perversa cultura occidental.
In two articles posted on reformist websites, Jordanian-American reformist Dr. Shaker Al-Nabulsi discussed how Western cultural phenomena, such as Valentine's Day and the Lebanese TV show "StarAcademy" (the local version of American Idol) are manifested in Arab culture. In the first article, titled "Happy Valentine's Day," he criticizes the fundamentalist Islamist prohibition against celebrating the holiday and called on the Muslims to take part in it. In the second article, he says that watching "StarAcademy" is an uplifting experience for anyone who has lost hope regarding the future of the Arab world.