Thursday, July 25, 2024

Eurovision: Thousands protest against Israel’s entry in Malmö

  • By Kathryn Armstrong
  • BBC News

image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

image caption, Thousands of people took to the streets to protest Israel’s participation in Eurovision

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

It came when the city hosted the second semi-final of the competition, in which Israel’s entrant Eden Golan performed.

But the response from the crowd on Thursday was more mixed, with cheers and some boos.

Ahead of Ms. Golan’s performance, pro-Palestinian protesters and a small number of Israeli supporters took to the streets.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was among those who took part in the pro-Palestinian demonstration, which Swedish police estimated at 12,000 people.

He also told the BBC that he had a “moral obligation to act” to speak out against Israel’s military action in Gaza.

“If tens of thousands of people flood the streets of Malmö during Eurovision and say we don’t accept this going ahead, that’s a very strong signal – and it will make a difference,” Ms Thunberg said.

Another protester, Matilda Varata, told Reuters news agency that Russia wanted to disqualify Israel following a full-scale occupation of Ukraine in 2022.

“It’s not true that Eurovision isn’t political, it’s always been political, it always will be,” he said.

Earlier, Ms Colon said she was “proud to represent my country” and that “nothing will stop her”.

image caption, Eton Golan performed in the second Eurovision semi-final on Thursday

There were cheers and some boos during his semi-final performance Thursday evening.

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

At the pro-Israel demonstration, people could be heard chanting in support of Ms Golan amid a significant police presence.

“I’m not that interested in Eurovision,” one demonstrator, Yale Sages Wallström, told Sweden’s Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

“But because there is such a big storm of hatred against Israel, I wanted to support”.

The Israel Broadcasting Corporation, which organizes the country’s competition entry, said it had asked the European Broadcasting Union to prevent a repeat of Wednesday’s atrocity.

Swedish authorities said they had stepped up security and were prepared for unrest.

Israel is currently engaged in a military campaign in Gaza in response to Hamas’ cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7.

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

More than 34,900 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

image caption, A pro-Israel crowd has also gathered in Malmö

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