May 30, 2024

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Eurovision: Thousands protest against Israel's entry into Malmö

Eurovision: Thousands protest against Israel’s entry into Malmö

  • Written by Katherine Armstrong
  • BBC News

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Comment on the photo, Thousands of people took to the streets to protest Israel’s participation in the Eurovision contest

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered on Thursday in the Swedish city of Malmo to protest Israel’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.

This came at a time when the city hosted the second semi-final of the competition, in which Israeli entrant Eden Golan participated.

But the crowd’s response was more mixed on Thursday, with cheers and some booing.

Before Ms. Golan’s performance, pro-Palestinian demonstrators and a smaller number of pro-Israel demonstrators took to the streets.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was among those who attended the pro-Palestinian demonstration, which Swedish police estimated numbered 12,000 participants.

She told the BBC that there was a “moral obligation to act” and speak out against the Israeli military operation in Gaza.

“If we are tens of thousands of people pouring into the streets of Malmö during Eurovision, saying we will not accept this continuing, that is a very strong signal – and it makes a difference,” Thunberg said.

Another protester, Matilda Varatta, told the Reuters news agency that she would like to see Israel disqualified as Russia was in 2022 after its large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

She said: “It is not true that the Eurovision contest is not political. It has always been political, and it will always remain so.”

Comment on the photo, Eden Gollan performed in the second Eurovision semi-final on Thursday

“I’m focusing on the music, the good energy, and there are a lot of people who support me, and I feel like it’s an honor to represent my country, especially in these times.”

Cheers and some booing were heard during her semifinal performance on Thursday night.

In a video message posted on social media before the event, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Ms Golan good luck and said she had “already won” after “successfully confronting” what he described as a “horrific wave of anti-Semitism” in Sweden.

At the pro-Israel demonstration, people could be heard singing “Hurricane” in support of Ms. Golan amid a large police presence.

“I’m not that interested in Eurovision,” one of the demonstrators, Yael Sajes Wallstrom, told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

“But since there is a huge storm of hatred against Israel, I wanted to support it.”

The Israel Broadcasting Corporation, which organizes participation in the competition in the country, said that it had asked the European Broadcasting Union to prevent a repeat of the booing incident that occurred on Wednesday.

The Swedish authorities said they had tightened security measures at the place and were preparing for any possible unrest.

Israel is currently waging a military campaign in Gaza, which it launched in response to Hamas’s cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7.

About 1,200 people were killed and 252 others were taken hostage.

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Comment on the photo, Crowds of supporters of Israel also gathered in Malmö