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Subject: Lebanon officially withdraws from...

Lebanon News Direct
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Date Posted: 03/29/05 4:34:51pm

As international attention has been focused on the pull out of Syrian military troops from Lebanon, another type of “withdrawal” has dramatically taken place involving a beautiful Lebanese rising star, politics and music…

Lebanon has withdrawn from the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest, after refusing to show the Israeli entry on Lebanese TV channel Tele-Liban. The channel told the European Broadcasting Union that Lebanon's legislation made it nearly impossible to broadcast the Israeli performance. This puts in breach of contest rules, which state all countries taking part must show the entire event.

Lebanon was expected to take part for the first time in the contest this year.

According to the Eurovision’s official website, “Tele-Liban has confirmed to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) the withdrawal of Lebanon from the Eurovision Song Contest 2005 (ESC 2005) to be hosted in Kiev by NTU, the national Ukrainian broadcaster, on 19 and 21 May”.

Lebanon would have been represented by talented singer Aline Lahoud representing it in the semi-final in Kiev on May 19.

Eurovision's executive supervisor Svante Stockselius told Eurovision website ESC, "When we told them (Lebanon) they had to broadcast the entire program, they decided to withdraw from the contest."

"I feel particularly sorry for Aline Lahoud."

Aline Lahoud was born in 1981. She grew up in an artistic family. Her mother Salwa Katrib is a famous singer and her father Nahi Lahoud is a well-known producer. Her uncle Roméo Lahoud is one of the most famous musical directors and composers in the Arab world.

Tele-Liban will still have to pay the participation fee for the contest and faces a further fine for withdrawing. The channel had originally said it would take part in December 2004, meeting a deadline by which all countries had to confirm their participation.

Lebanon would have been one of three newcomers to this year's contest, the other two being Bulgaria and Moldova. The final will be held on May 21, with a record 39 countries taking part overall.

The affair actually began several weeks ago after the official Lebanese website set up for the competition avoided any mention of Israel. Eventually, Lebanese broadcaster Tele-Liban found a creative solution by removing the names of all participating countries from the site. However, the EBU sought assurances that the upcoming contest would be broadcast in full, including the Israeli song.

Shiri Maimon, 24, will be representing Israel in the upcoming Eurovision, singing a song called "The Quiet that Remains”.

Tele-Liban was apparently unable to provide the assurances requested by the EBU and Lebanon subsequently withdrew from the popular music competition.

According to the ESC rules, all national broadcasters of the countries taking part in the Contest must broadcast the entire event, comprising two live televised shows – a Semi Final and a Final.

Lebanon's withdrawal of its Eurovision entry is not the first time that Israel has affected Arab countries' entries into various global contests.

A Miss Lebanon once dropped out of a Miss Universe pageant after she refused to be photographed with Miss Israel. In 1978, the Jordanian broadcaster showed pictures of flowers when the Israeli participants took to the stage, avoided any mention of Israel's win in the competition and announced second-place Belgium as the winner.

Tele-Liban's head, Ibrahim Khoury, confirmed the decision to pull out, telling The AP that Lebanon was unaware of the presence of an Israeli participant when it confirmed its entry in December.

"Lebanon is in a state of war with Israel. If the Israeli contestant wins, we would have to show the celebrations," Khoury said. He added that Lebanon would also be obliged to air the Israeli website on which viewers could vote for the Israeli participant. "I cannot do this," he said.

Khoury said the decision to withdraw was "painful," particularly as Lebanon was participating with a talented contestant.

Jad Rahbani, a Lebanese musician who composed the song Lahoud was to sing, said the withdrawal from Eurovision was "another blow" for Lebanon. Aline was to perform the song "Quand tout s'enfuit" (When everything escapes) for the upcoming contest.

"I'm very disappointed," Rahbani said.

In the late 1990s, Aline began her professional career as a singer and actress. Under the supervision of Mrs. Hélou and Mrs. Haddad, Aline studied singing and dramatic art. After graduating from school, she enrolled in St. Joseph University IESAV (Institut des Etudes Scéniques et Audio Visuelles). In 2002, she obtained a BA degree in Communication Arts with a major in Screenplay and Directing Studies.

Aline had participated in several plays as well. She was awarded the Special Award Trophy of the FIDOF (Fédération Internationale de l’Organisation des Festivals) during the Megahit Festival in Turkey in September 2004 as well as the ‘Murex d’Or’ trophy. Apart from singing, Aline Lahoud has directed several short films and studied modern ballet and jazz dance.

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