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Subject: An unexpected emissary of peace: the daughter of Mesopotamia
doggtag    3/31/2007 3:00:22 PM
Gee, who'd a thought... (see below)
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doggtag       3/31/2007 3:04:05 PM

Iraqis unite behind their heroine on Arab ‘Idol’

Singer transcends sectarian tensions in her father’s native country" width=423 border=0>
Iraqi Shatha Hassun wraps herself in her national flag after winning the pan-Arab Star Academy reality talent show and competition, in Adma, north of Beirut, on Friday. Hassun won the title along with $50,000 and a sport utility vehicle at the end of the show.
By Karin Brulliard" width=152 border=0>
Updated: 44 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - By early Friday night, families here were hunkered around their televisions, nervously awaiting the election results that would come hours later. In the northern Iraqi town of Irbil, thousands packed into a shopping mall courtyard and stood before a massive screen, shouting for the victory of their candidate: "Shada! Shada!"

The chestnut-maned object of their obsession was Shada Hassoun, Iraq's contestant on the fourth season of the Lebanese talent show "Star Academy," the "American Idol" of the Arab world. She had made Friday's finals, and a public vote, sent via cellphone, would decide her fate. And so Iraqis everywhere were in a Shada frenzy this week -- causing many to observe that, win or lose, Hassoun, a 26-year-old who professes to love jet-skiing and Antonio Banderas, had managed to engender a sense of national cohesion that has eluded Iraq for years." width=152 border=0>

"Sunnis and Shiites will unite with your victory!" read one text message, sent by a viewer, that scrolled across the screen Friday during a pre-show telecast on Iraq's al-Sharqiya satellite channel. "You are the one who unites all of Iraq, from North to South, from the Tigris to the Euphrates!"

Hassoun might seem an unlikely ambassador for Iraq, because she's never been t

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