Mohammed Assaf: 'Palestine remains the priority'
Despite his rapid rise to stardom, Gazan singer Mohammed Assaf has remained dedicated to the Palestinian cause - and has used his fame to convey the voice of his people at every occasion.
Assaf is the Regional Youth Ambassador for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), and this month took part in a fundraising event in London organised to support UNRWA's "winterisation campaign" for Palestinian refugees, particularly those in Syria and the Gaza Strip.
|Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza face the harshest of winter conditions due to the destruction of their homes in last year's Israeli aggression|
Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza face the harshest of winter conditions due to the destruction of their homes in last year's Israeli aggression against the besieged Strip.
Palestinian refugees in Syria and neighbouring countries also face similar conditions after losing their homes and possessions due to the conflict there.
UNRWA is trying to raise funds to provide Gazans with alternative housing, and Palestinian refugees elsewhere with winter essentials such as blankets and coats.
Sami Mshasha, the UNRWA spokesman and head of communications told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the agency launched the #Givethemwarmth campaign particularly for Gaza's children, who have suffered through three wars in five years.
Mshasha said the previous winter had been very harsh and the agency could not secure the funding it needed to provide sufficient services, which is why it is trying its best to raise $1.5 million this year from charities, individuals and donor countries.
Irfan Rajput, of Muslim Charity, the co-sponsor of the event, said his organisation aimed to raise $60,000 at the event, adding that the charity had raised more than half a million dollars for UNRWA last year.
|Assaf (centre) was the star of the show [alAraby]|
The star of the evening was Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf. "All of our hearts are breaking in pain for what is happening in Palestine," he said.
Assaf called on the international community and free people around the world to take a serious stand against the Israeli occupation and its history of violence against Palestinian rights.
|All of our hearts are breaking in pain for what is happening in Palestine
- Mohammed Assaf
He also thanked Muslim Charity for the assistance it provided to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, especially in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.
Assaf spoke to al-Araby al-Jadeed about his debut film Ya Tair Ya Tayer, which he said represents a large portion of his life.
The Arab Idol star said he was more comfortable with signing than acting - but he was curious to stretch his talents and would accept acting roles if the story was realistic, purposeful and would add to his artistic career.
As for his success, the youth star said he had exerted "tremendous efforts" to get to where he was today, but he believes that his success was a gift from God.
Assaf also spoke of meeting his fiancee, Lina Qishawi, at a concert commemorating the start of the Palestinian Revolution in Ramallah's Cultural Palace, adding that she drew his attention at the first sight.
Assaf told al-Araby al-Jadeed of his wish to live a private life and not have his personal relationships be the focus of the media spotlight, adding that he would stop singing if it were to interfere with his personal life.