Politics commandeer stage in Mideast TV contest

May 12, 2013 • Entertainment

In this Friday, April. 26, 2013 photo, Syrian singer Farah Youssef, performs during the Arab Idol Show broadcast by MBC Arabic satellite channel, in Zouk Mosbeh neighborhood, north of Beirut, Lebanon. Youssef in a recent interview described her ordeal that has come to feature daily in the lives of Syrians caught up in the civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people and turned millions of other into refugees. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT (AP) — TV singing contests around the world tend to serve up light, glitzy entertainment with a dash of emotional drama. But in the Middle East’s version of “American Idol,” it’s the region’s troubles that often take center stage.

Two contestants are from civil war-ravaged Syria, including a singer-composer whose bus was ambushed by gunmen en route to her audition and a music student who brought judges to tears with a song lamenting the devastation of his hometown of Aleppo. A performer from the Gaza Strip has become an audience favorite for singing about the plights of Palestinians under Israeli rule.

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