19 February 2019

Italian-Egyptian singer wins Song Contest

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A jury comprising experts and journalists picked Alessandro 'Mahmood' Mahmoud over Niccolò ‘Ultimo' Moriconi as the winner of a national contest, outweighing the public vote, leaving the Italian public divided along political lines. reports citing foreign media.

An Italian singer with Egyptian roots has won a national song contest and will represent Italy at Eurovision 2019, much to the anger of the country's right-wing politicians.

Alessandro Mahmoud, a Moroccan pop singer who was born in Milan to an Italian mother and an Egyptian father, took first place at the five-day Sanremo Music Festival — the most famous pop music event in Italy.

He was favored by a panel of experts and journalists, which together accounted for 50 percent of the final vote.

The 2019 edition of Sanremo attracted over 10 million viewers, but this year, public and media attention was largely focused on the jury's decision.

The runner-up, Niccolò 'Ultimo' Moriconi, finished first in pay-to-vote public televoting, picking up 46.5 percent of votes, while Mahmood only received 14 percent. However, with the jury's support, Mahmood emerged as the winner, and a host of critics say this decision turned into a political message due to his descent and the fact that his song featured a line in Arabic.

"Mahmood… mah… The most beautiful Italian song?" Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted on Sunday. "I would have chosen Ultimo."

Five Star Movement (5SM) leader Di Maio reacted in a similar tone: "The winner was not who the majority of voters wanted, but who the minority of jury wanted." He added that the Sanremo jury was composed "largely of journalists and radical chic."

"I congratulate Mahmood, Ultimo and all the others. And I would like to thank Sanremo because this year it has made millions of Italians aware of the abyssal distance between the people and the 'elite'."

2019.02.12 / 15:52
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