May 22, 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 in the Swedish city of Malmo to protest Israel’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.

This comes as the city prepares to host the second semi-final match of the competition on Thursday evening, in which Israeli newcomer Eden Golan will perform.

A smaller demonstration was also held in support of Israel.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was among those who attended the pro-Palestinian protest, which Swedish police estimated was attended by up to 12,000 people.

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.

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

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.”

“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.”

In a video message posted on social media on Thursday evening, 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.”

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

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

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

Swedish authorities say they have tightened security measures at the place and are 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.

More than 34,900 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Strip.