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Music is a powerful medium for ushering in peace

Image used for illustrative purpose. Employees and management members of hotels near Dead Sea form a floating image at the Dead Sea beach October 30, 2014. A group of 261 hotel staff broke the Guinness World record for creating the largest floating image on the Dead Sea in an effort to boost Jordan's flagging tourism industry which is feeling the effects of the wars raging in neighbouring Iraq and Syria. Organised by Monaco Business Development, the participants were recruited from the Dead Sea's eight hotels to create the image of a peace sign.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Employees and management members of hotels near Dead Sea form a floating image at the Dead Sea beach October 30, 2014. A group of 261 hotel staff broke the Guinness World record for creating the largest floating image on the Dead Sea in an effort to boost Jordan's flagging tourism industry which is feeling the effects of the wars raging in neighbouring Iraq and Syria. Organised by Monaco Business Development, the participants were recruited from the Dead Sea's eight hotels to create the image of a peace sign.

REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Dubai: Beyond the political solutions that are being sought in the Arab world, many other voices are contributing in their call for peace in their own way. One of them is the 23-year old Palestinian singer Yaqoub Shaheen, who believes music is a powerful medium in ushering peace.

Shaheen, who had won the region’s popular singing competition Arab Idol in 2017, was delivering a 20-minute “Message of Peace” on the second day of the Arab Media Forum, and told the audience that his mission was to use art to bring the Arab world together.

“There is hope in the Arab world. I have chosen to use my music to spread messages of love, peace and acceptance of others across the Arab world, so that I can help unify the people. I have so much hope for this region to become better,” said Shaheen, who was born and raised in Bethlehem and belongs to a small Assyrian community.

Shaheen spoke of the peaceful coexistence that still exists between Muslims and Christians in Palestine and wanted to convey this as an example to the world.

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“If one day our Arab brothers and sisters got to visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem, they will understand the meaning of love and peace,” he said.

He added that there are many examples in history, and to this day, that show how Muslims and Christians live in coexistence. “The key to the nativity church has been preserved by Muslims to this day. Even during the Islamic conquest of the ancient city of Jerusalem, the caliph who came chose to not pray at the church because he wanted to keep it for the Christians and have a mosque built on the other side.

“I hope everyone can look at these examples and share it with the world. We, Palestinians, are all together on the Palestinian case. Despite efforts of others to divide us, we continued to be together on this case and stay united under the banner of love and peace.”

Shaheen was the second Palestinian to win the grand finale of Arab Idol after Mohammad Assaf from Gaza. Both are working to produce a new artistic performance that carries such messages of peace to the world.

Whether he considers his victory in the programme as something to dedicate for Christians, he said: “I was elected by Arabs from different nationalities and religious backgrounds and my victory was thanks to them and their votes. This really means something. It means there’s a promising future for Arabs and a generation who respects others’ differences. This is the society I was raised in.”

Shaheen said he wants to contribute with high quality art in the Arab world and believes many other talented youth have something to contribute to the Arab culture.

Many talents from Palestine have emerged over the years, he said. “Even though we live under occupation, many talents are coming from the centre of this struggle. There are hundreds of others like Shaheen and Assaf, many of them have something to contribute. Today I’m the Arab Idol star, but the Palestinian case is something I will never forget.”

By Mary Achkhanian Staff Reporter

Gulf News 2017. All rights reserved.

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