"Her triumph will show the world that Iraqis will still sing despite their wounds." So said Israa Tariq, a homemaker in Baghdad.
Gunfire was heard in Baghdad Friday night, the celebratory kind. Why? How could there possibly be anything joyful in Baghdad? For those with electricity to watch their tv sets, a moment of pride was found as Shadha Hassoun was surrounded by her fans as she won the Arab version of American Idol. She triumphed over three other finalists, a man from Egypt, a man from Lebanon and a woman from Tunisia.
Hassoun wrapped herself in the flag of Iraq and burst into tears. It is the Arab world's most watched tv show and it was a ray of hope amidst a week of a series of suicide bombings in marketplaces and sectarian cleansing exercises of insurgents shooting innocent men, execution style, after dragging them out of their homes.
Her people have dubbed her the "Daughter of Mesopotamia" and they are grateful for the distraction her ascent in the competition has provided. She is a 25 year old young woman born in Casablanca, Morocco. Her father is her connection with Iraq. He is a native of a tribe of southern Iraq. Some say part of her success is due to the fact that no one knows if she is Sunni or Shiite, so everyone is comfortable claiming her as their own. She is Paris educated and does not live in Iraq. She has embraced the country and the people as her own.
She is a symbol of hope. She is accomplishing a great feat to inspire others as a message to abandon the violence and pull together, to do something constructive for their country. Ziad al-Qaisi, 31 years old, of Baghdad said "Iraqis should focus on art, music and sports where they can find love, beauty and tranquility."
It is easy to be critical, to be shrill and hateful against those wanting to help the Iraqi people have a better life. It is easy to surrender in times of trial. Those doing the hard work, the necessary work, can use all the inspiration they can get.
It's not such a difficult choice.