Tensions soared and tempers shortened when viewers watching "Superstar" voted Lebanese singer Melhem Zein out of the semi-final round of the televised contest. A Jordanian and a Syrian contestant will compete for the crown.

 

The two remaining contestants, both women, fainted in the ensuing melee and were whisked off to hospital, a spectator told Reuters. Some 150 Lebanese fans vented their fury outside.

 

"With our blood and souls, we sacrifice for you Melhem," the protesters chanted, waving pictures of the defeated singer.

   

Fair contest

 

Ali Jaber, executive manager of sponsor Future TV, said the vote had been fair. Viewers communicate their preferences by phone, Internet and text message.

 

Zein, a 21-year-old from the Lebanese Bekaa, said he always wanted to be a musician. At the age of seven, he sang “Lissa Faker” by Um Kulthoum at a wedding.

 

“I’ve been raised to appreciate classical Arabic music, and I absolutely cannot sing the modern styles of music that are currently widespread,” Zein said in a recent interview.